How do I decide what to do with my life?

How do I decide what to do with my life?

In times of uncertainty, knowing which step to take next can be challenging. It can particularly difficult for graduates who are not graduating because of the COVID-19 virus; for students not sure if they should return to college in the fall; for those whose jobs have been eliminated; for church, civic and business leaders struggling with decisions about when and how to reopen.

Christians, in particular, wrestle with the notion that God has a plan for their lives and the day-to-day reality that those plans seem to be in disarray. Following the example of Jesus is the best way to navigate through the uncertainty. Jesus had a mission and everything he did was focused on that mission to take the punishment for sin of all people, past, present and future, onto himself at the cross. He died so that those who accept what he did for them would become “clean” before God and know for certain that they would live forever with him. (John 5:19-24)

So determining your mission in life is an important first step in deciding what you should do with your uncertain future. That will take some work. Jesus was in regular communion with God, his father, to ensure he was “staying on course.” For you and me, regular communion with God through prayer and Bible reading will help you align your thoughts with his. That will help bring clarity to your mission in life.

In addition, as you meditate on God’s word, and learn to hear from him in prayer, your anxiety will diminish, and you will more clearly see a path before you. Ask God what he wants for your life and you may discover a future different from the one you had envisioned. Interruptions to education or a career opens new horizons.

Paul, the Apostle, went from being a persecutor of Christians (Acts 8:3) to the leading evangelist, church planter and pastor in the history of Christianity. It happened because he had an encounter with Jesus (Acts 9) and used his education, his speaking and writing skills, and his Roman citizenship to carry the message of Jesus throughout the Roman world.

As with Paul, once you align your thoughts with those of Jesus, you will find that the path forward will come into focus.

Why did Jesus heal some people and not others?

Why did Jesus heal some people and not others?

In the biographies of Jesus, authors Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tells of numerous instances of Jesus healing sick people. Though these authors don’t explicitly say so, we can assume that some sick people who lived in Jesus’ time did not get healed.

For example, when Jesus went to the pool of Bethsaida, he entered a portico where many sick, lame and blind people sat beside a pool of water that they believed had healing qualities. They believed that when an angel stirred the water, the first to enter would be healed. (John 5:1-15)  They did not seek Jesus’ healing, nor did he offer it. Rather he came with a specific purpose.

Jesus used the healing as a sign. He was demonstrating that he was Lord of the Sabbath. He was seen by the religious leaders of the day as violating their “law” since he was doing work (healing) on the Sabbath, a day set aside for rest. But Jesus explained that his father, God, is at work at all times, and therefore the son must work, as well. In this case the “work” was to heal a paralytic.

People who have only a cursory understanding the Bible, believe that Jesus came to earth to teach morals and perform miracles. Actually, the teaching and miracles were designed to establish Jesus’ credentials as God incarnate. His perfection allowed him to go to the cross as a perfect sacrifice to substitute his death for the deserved death of every man and woman.

Jesus didn’t heal everyone because that was not his mission. In fact, his healings were temporary. None of the people healed went on live disease- and pain-free forever.  They all eventually died. This again suggests that the “miracle” Jesus performed at the pool of Bethsaida was for a reason other than to provide temporary relief from pain. His focus was on forgiveness of sin because his desire is that we will accept the sacrifice he made on our behalf and join him in heaven for an eternity of joy, forever relieved of pain and the fear of death.

What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

What does it mean to be ‘Poor in Spirit’?

The first recorded teaching of Jesus is found in the book of Matthew.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3 NIV)

This is considered by many scholars to be Jesus’ most important teaching. The requirement for entering the kingdom of heaven—to be with God forever—is being poor in spirit. This idea is contrary to what the world teaches, and in his day, in particular, this teaching of Jesus was revolutionary.

Many believed that being blessed was to be powerful, rich, and self-sufficient. People who were poor or lacked power, or were afflicted in one way or another were seen as not being blessed. Jesus flipped this script by pointing out that to be truly blessed one must first become poor. In order to be rich in things of the Spirit, one must become poor in things of the flesh.

The Biblical meaning of “poor in spirit” is to empty oneself. Before we can be filled with God’s blessings, we must first be emptied of our self-centeredness. We must recognize that our sin, our rebellion against God, and our pride makes us worthy of condemnation by the God who created us. When we confess that we are spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1) then we become truly “poor in spirit.”

We must understand that it is impossible to live the Christian life and to follow the teaching of Jesus on our own. If we think we are good and can follow Christ by our own strength, then we are not being poor in spirit. Now this doesn’t mean that we are to be fearful, or shy, rather poor in spirit suggests that we are to be inwardly humble.

God accepts into his Kingdom only those who truly humble themselves before Him. In the old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophet records these words of God:

I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. ( Isaiah 57:15).

Remember that in God’s sight we have nothing to boast about. We cannot boast of our wealth, our intellect, our education, our skill, our lineage or our station in life. All these things are worthless and vain. We can bring nothing to God. We can only come to God as empty beings relying on God’s mercy to fill us with spiritual blessings. That’s what it means to be poor in spirit.

Are you ready to humble yourself and submit to God, praying that in due time he will lift you up and make you truly blessed?

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

Understanding what you mean by tolerance is an important first step in answering this question. Tolerance once meant a free and open discussion in search of the truth. Modern science is based on searching for the truth. Tolerance used to be a respectful discourse open to “all points of view”.

Today, however, the word has taken on a new meaning. Many in Western culture today view tolerance as accepting any and all viewpoints as being equally valid so long as those viewpoints comport with their worldviews. They no longer view truth as absolute and reject scientific reality. As a result, they are no longer tolerant of traditional systems that provide guidelines for moral living and governing

For example, many today deny God’s truth, as found in the Bible, a gold standard for morality and reason that has guided mankind for thousands of years. The result is the moral decline of society. That decline includes, but is not limited to, lying, fraud, failure to protect the sanctity of life, immorality, infidelity, disrespect for authority, selfishness, greed, and much more. Secular tolerance has become a new god where people offend no one and stand for nothing. The only thing they don’t tolerate is Christian and biblical truths. This new notion of tolerance is leading to chaos and loss of freedoms.

Interestingly, Jesus, God’s son, entered the world during a time when many of the so-called faith leaders showed no tolerance for those who did not strictly subscribe to their way of doing things. That intolerance was couched in religious terms so as to suggest that one group of people, the elite, had it right and everyone else needed to live by their standards — their version of truth.

In his Sermon on the Mount, and throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated by words and deeds, that he would not be tolerant of the beliefs or behavior of others who had a warped view of God’s teaching. He turned the system upside down by restoring a right-reading of scripture and calling people to give up their sinful ways. He went so far as to go to the cross to die in the place of you and me so that our wrongdoings could be paid for and we could become Children of God.

This truth has had a profound impact on world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms will no longer exist. Jesus said,  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32) Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So. does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

Image by Vitabello from Pixabay
Where does God reside?

Where does God reside?

Where does God reside?

God doesn’t live anywhere. He is everywhere or omnipresent.  It’s a concept that is hard for us to comprehend since we are not God.  However, once we recognize that God is a transcendent being and operates outside of time and space, it is easy to understand that God can be involved in every aspect of creation. For example, nuclear physicists have hypothesized that at the subatomic level the smallest identifiable quantity is light. So, just as light is everywhere—inside every cell of the human body, inside every grain of dust and blade of grass—God can be everywhere all the time.

In the Bible, writers of the Scriptures, inspired by the Holy Spirit, describe God as one who is involved in every aspect of his creation. You can test the theory of God’s omnipresence by talking with him. As you become aware of your communication, you only have to imagine billions of others carrying on a conversation with God at the same time. If millions can be on Google at one time, it is not to difficult to reason that God can handle an infinite number of communications simultaneously—being everywhere at once.

Three thousand years ago, David, a king of Israel and prolific songwriter, penned these words that beautifully describe an omnipresent God.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalms 139:7-12

What is the “Good News” of Christmas?

What is the “Good News” of Christmas?

The good news of Christmas dates back to the creation of the world by God and the creation of man who was made in God’s image. God intended that the man and woman he created, Adam and Eve, would live in perfect harmony with Him—enjoying perfect fellowship and being obedient to His commands thereby allowing them to experience perfect joy.

The problem is that man rebelled against God, breaking the fellowship and learning that what they thought would be freedom, turned into slavery to sin. That brought all the negative consequences that humans experience today. Those include pain, suffering, broken relationships, lack of peace and death. God who is perfect could not be in fellowship with imperfect humans. Their sins separated them forever from God and ensured that they would suffer throughout eternity for their continued rebellion from God.

Through Jesus, His son, God provided a way for men and women to be rescued from the consequences of their sin. God let Jesus take on the sin of all mankind–a substitute sacrifice that was acceptable to God. Jesus laid down his life that those who willingly accepted this substitutionary sacrifice might have their relationship to God restored. That brought with it the promise of an eternal life free of the consequences of sin. That’s the good news of Christmas, because Christmas is the celebration of the arrival of Jesus on earth in the form of a human. It’s the celebration of a life that culminates in death on a cross where the sins of all men and women–past, present and future–are paid for by the shedding of Jesus’ blood allowing us to be redeemed through the subsequent resurrection of Jesus.

What does God expect us to do with this knowledge that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s wrath against our sins? He expects us to accept the sacrifice of His son Jesus, turn away from our sin, and have faith that we will experience peace in this life and an eternity of contentment with Him. Christmas is a celebration of this good news, “For unto you a Savior is born who is Christ the Lord.” The final question is, have you believed it and accepted Jesus as your Savior? It is the most important decision a person ever makes. Merry Christmas!