Thursday, October 27, 2011

SIMPLICITY

Simplicity

10/27/2011



“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Why is it so hard to see the simplicity in this verse? Just about everyone it seems is able to quote it from memory, but not many actually understand the content. God loves each and every human being on this planet and He always has. Before He laid the foundation stone of the earth He had already designed the way of salvation for all His creation. The fact that He allowed His only begotten Son to be the payment for the sin of the world was not an afterthought. Why is it so difficult for people grasp what God is telling us in the above verse? Believing the truth of what Jesus did for us is all it takes for God to see us as His children. Whosoever believeth in him. Believing is the key which unlocks the doors of Heaven for everlasting life – eternally secure in the hands of our Savior.



God provided the way for everyone to receive everlasting life, and He did so with simplicity in mind. But, God has given us each the freedom to choose – to choose either life or death. He knew, before we exited our mother’s womb, how hard headed and stiff necked we would turn out so He compensated, He designed the plan of salvation in a way that would be easily accessible to all. Please don’t misunderstand, for God Himself there was nothing simple about planning and then watching the death of His only begotten Son. Providing the way had to be hard even for God. Watching while Jesus was spit upon, slapped, mocked, ridiculed, scourged, and finally nailed to that cross to die would have been anything but simple for the Father. The simplicity I’m speaking of is how easy God made it for us to simply say yes to His Son, Jesus the Christ, and obtain what we clearly don’t deserve. Salvation is free for the asking. Believe, ask, and then receive God’s free gift of salvation – what could be simpler?



All God asks of us is to believe. There are no works involved. We don’t have to provide any proof of who we are, we don’t have to perform any religious tricks, or follow a set of rules and regulations to receive God’s free gift. Ya get it? It’s free for anyone who believes. Yet we see that many Christian organizations want to add to the simplicity of what Jesus did for us on that cross. All manner of works related faith programs are being espoused these days to create an atmosphere of difficulty – and in many cases are impossible to comply with. Just like the leaders of the Israelites adding over 600 laws to keep their people in line, we see many Christian based organizations following in Pharisaical footsteps lording over the laity (the nothings) with works and rules for obtaining and keeping their salvation. This was not the intent behind the cross of Christ.



How much more simple could God have made it? “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Acts 2:21. I believe, yes Lord Jesus I believe in what you did for me on that cross. At the very instant that our mind begins to formulate those words we become born again, born from above, from God. God sees into our hearts and He hears our very thoughts, so He knew our words before they even came out of our mouths. Actually, God knew who would say yes to His son and who would say no long before any human habitation of earth.



God tells us in His word (the Bible) that Jesus (His only begotten Son) died on a cross and was buried. That He (Jesus) was three days and three nights in the grave and on the third day He rose from the grave. This is what God says we must believe in order to receive His free gift of salvation. There is nothing else for us to do but believe in order to receive that free gift. All God asks of me and you is to believe in order to freely obtain everlasting life. Does that sound simple to you? Doesn’t accepting the gift of salvation God gives us freely seem easy to you? Yes? Then why do so many people try to make it so difficult?



Believing in the Son is the key to everlasting life, and it’s not difficult to believe in Jesus because it’s not difficult to believe truth. There is also simplicity in believing lies and we must be careful to always see lies for what they are, attacks by the enemy. There are many things that are difficult in this life; loving others with the same agape love by which God loves all of us can be very difficult, and at times it may seem impossible. But when speaking about God’s free gift of salvation there is nothing that can take on a more simplistic tone than to simply believe. How hard is it to believe in a Creator who loves us and wants only to have a relationship with us? It’s not hard at all, unless of course we’ve been taught that there is no God. Then we would certainly find believing in something that we were taught doesn’t exist far from simple. But God does exist and He’s proved it time and time again. With every new day we’re confronted with God’s majesty. With every night’s sky we’re confronted with God’s plan of salvation in the stars.



After seeing God’s creation, no one in their right mind can conclude that there is no God, not if they’re being completely honestly that is. After seeing His creation and determining that He is and that He must be an awesome and powerful God, reality eventually sets in. At which point saying yes to Jesus Christ becomes a simple statement of faith “I believe”. “What about asking for forgiveness – repenting – and turning from our sinful lives?” Now you’re talking about sanctification which comes after we are justified (saved). The sanctification process is ongoing and will last until the day we die or until the rapture, at which point we will then be glorified. I’ve mentioned this in another commentary but I’ll repeat myself here for clarification. God’s plan is a three tier process. First we begin with Justification which is a done deal at the point in time when we first say “Yes Jesus, I believe”. The second part of the process is Sanctification; this can be the longest part of the three tier process, but it is God who does all the work here. He works on our hearts, convicting us of sin so we will begin to move away from what we were once involved in. During this process God is reforming us into the exact likeness of His Son, Jesus. It’s actually God who moves us away from sin by convicting – sort of like when a child gets too close to the edge the street. We call them back or we go get them. God does the same thing with those who are His children. The process of sanctification will take the rest of your life. Lastly, in this three tier process, is Glorification. We receive our glorified bodies and live with God for eternity.



The simplicity in believing in what Jesus did for us on that cross and then through His resurrection takes faith in God. We must believe that God loves us, and that He loves us so much that He’d send His perfect Son to take our punishment, to die in our stead. Believing this truth is the only way of salvation. Yes it’s simple; it’s just hard for those who’ve been taught in school or at home that there is no God. I can understand how hard believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of a supposedly nonexistent God would be. The simplicity comes when we are assured through the mountains of proof that exist everywhere we look that all we see must have been intelligently designed and that that designer is our Creator God, Jesus the Christ. “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Romans 1:19-20. The fact is we are without any excuse for rejecting the truth which points to a loving God who does exist and who did die for His creation.



Really, the free gift that God offers is simply just that, a free gift. We can argue with God all day about how we feel that we should be required to do something to earn His free gift, that it is just too important to be so freely given. But at the end of the day Jesus said “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:28-29. Believe on Him (Jesus the Christ) whom He (God) hath sent. How much simpler could God have made it? Remember the decision to die for His creation was made before mankind was created. The simplicity surrounding the decision to say yes to Jesus Christ has been given to us by God. Will you accept His free gift or will you reject it? Simple question.



Believing in Jesus as Lord and Savior is easy, it’s just hard for those who wish to continue in their rebellion to God. And there will always be those works based Christians who insist on placing a massive yoke around the necks of those who want nothing more than a relationship with their Savior God. But hard hearts can be melted, and the works based deceived individuals can be set free. Just a few kind words from a follower of Jesus Christ can move mountains if we will only speak the words. This too is a simple thing, it’s made difficult by people who think some kind of reprisal will be forthcoming once the subject of Jesus Christ is broached. Believe it or not, many times people put on a hard shell but underneath there’s a Christian trying to come out (I was one of those). All they need is to hear a little truth and voila another dead person comes alive. The shell is broken and underneath that hard shell was another follower of Jesus Christ whose been dying to get out.



The truth is God does love every one. And His love is the same for each of us. “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” Acts 10:34. God doesn’t want any of His creation to perish. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9.



Salvation is simple, God made it simple. Why? Because He loves us with a love we can’t even come close to comprehending. But we can understand “…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish…” John 3:16b. Believing in Jesus as our God and Savior is all it takes to gain everlasting life; Jesus paid the price, we in turn have nothing to pay. It’s simple when you really think about it. We were all perishing at one time until we said yes to Jesus Christ and believed on Him. Simple isn’t it? We humans make it hard but God designed it to be as a simple as a walk in the park. Everlasting life – all we need do is believe in the one who gives us that life, Jesus the Christ, Creator of Heaven and earth.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham



twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed

Thursday, October 13, 2011

PLENTY TO GO AROUND

Plenty to Go Around

10/13/2011



“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:” Ephesians 1:9-11 . What was God’s intent for creating us in the first place? Almost everyone who is presented with this question has a different answer. But there is only one true answer, God created us according to His will for His purposes and for His good pleasure.



We’re born on this planet earth and we die on this planet and in between those two points in time we may accomplish a lot or we may accomplish little depending on how we look at this life God has handed us. To God our accomplishments are viewed very differently than how we humans may perceive them to be. Did God place us here to become wealthy or influential? Did He place us on this planet to be poor or utterly useless? There is a vast array of ideas on just how we should live and conduct our lives being propagated today, and few of these concepts concur with God’s ideal lifestyle for the human side of His creation. How you and I see each other is not necessarily how God sees us.



It was never God’s intention that man be consumed with his daily labor to the exclusion of all else, especially as can be plainly seen in that so many have fully excluded God from their lives, and from wanting any part of Him. How can God be pleased when His creation ignores Him – all the time running after more wealth and masses of material goods? These days are filled with the pursuit of accumulating wealth and, of course, the age old problem arises as to what’s more important – what’s the priority in our lives? Sooner or later pursuing wealth will become overwhelming and our lives will reveal the loss of any thought of what’s really important, such as remembering we have a God – a Father in Heaven – who simply wants a loving and awesome relationship with His children to come to fruition.



Chasing after knowledge is another quest which becomes a stumbling block for many because we can exclude all else as we strive to obtain the goal of higher knowledge – most of which comes without any wisdom (knowledge means we know a tomato is a fruit, wisdom means we realize tomatoes don’t belong in a fruit salad). God is the giver of all knowledge and wisdom and He gives us what we need to build a loving relationship with Him, pursuing humanistic dreams which more often than not contradict God’s word fall into a category which is insulting to Him. All contrary concepts in regards to the word of God are of the enemy, and as we pursue them we unwittingly cross over a line which leads us directly into the enemy’s camp.



God’s plan for His creation never included anything apart from His Word. As we go about pursuing our own goals we must ask ourselves, where does God fit in? When we design our plans for our future is God involved? Future, there’s a word that must be discussed more. Without God we have no future. Our future according to God may have nothing to do with our own personal plans. God’s plan will be achieved no matter how many times we mere humans try to throw a monkey wrench into His plan for our future. The best laid plans.



“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1Timothy 6:9-10. Most people who pursue after incredible wealth and power aren’t really concerned with what God wants or expects from them. Money, finances, these things are necessary for us to get by, that’s just a fact of life, but as far as God is concerned they are secondary needs and He will provide all our needs. First of all, God wants us to get to know Him. He’s put it on our hearts to seek Him, and He knows that we will live a life with a huge void in our hearts until we do just that. He wants us (His children) to have and enjoy a relationship with Him while we sojourn on this planet. He’s preparing us for an eternity filled with so much more than we can experience or appreciate during our stay on earth. Money buys just about anything, gobs of money buys way more than we need. A huge problem arises when we allow money to determine our path instead of allowing God to control that task. It’s easy to separate ourselves from God as we allow our hearts and minds to be filled with something we can’t easily be shed of; that would be greed.



“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1Timothy 6:8. You see, the more we have the more we want, and that’s just the human way of living. That’s why God tells us not to be consumed with the desire to have more than we need, but to be content in what we have. If we can’t find contentment in what we have then ultimately we will pursue after that desire to obtain more. This attitude of more in turn establishes a stumbling block in our lives, in this case it’s that old greed monster raising its ugly head again. We can either serve God in which case we will find contentment in whatever situation comes our way, or we will become subservient to the pursuit of the desire to have more and more of everything.



Let’s take a look at a much forgotten way of life. Years ago travel was mostly accomplished by using a horse-drawn wagon. Families would load up the kids for a jaunt into town on a Saturday to stock up with the necessities for the coming week or even for the next month. Sundays they would head to church in that same horse-drawn wagon. There was no rushing around and no cutting people off in traffic in order to get to their favorite fast food joint before the rush. Before we knew it we were sitting in shinny new and fast moving cars that would get us to where we wanted to go in an instant. All so we could wait in line to buy what we don’t really need. As we began to travel faster we began to expect everything that comes our way to come instantaneously. And we become upset whenever we are asked to wait or be patient. We stop at a fast food restaurant and expect our food to be delivered at breakneck speed. If, heaven forbid, we aren’t accommodated as we have come to expect, God help the poor soul that fell behind with our order by a minute or two. I give this fast food example because our daughter works at one of these establishments. It’s amazing to listen to her describe the patrons as they become incredibly irate by the delay of a few seconds in receiving their French fries. She tells her mother and me that some of these folks only have three or four letter word vocabularies – none of which are encouraging words. The really amazing thing is that all of these folks seem to be running late for their next appointment. How did everything get so rushed? Where is God in the mix of all this hurriedness?



Can you see what has happened in our pursuit for more? More and faster cars, more and bigger homes, more and more money so we are able to purchase more and more things that usually end up only collecting dust in an attic or basement. What all these wants add up to is a huge void where God should be. Once God fills that void everything else becomes of non-importance. Money, the one item that everyone needs, is no longer pursued with the fervor it once was. God provides.



In the mindset of most humans there is a goal to reach which has nothing to do with what God wants from us. God wants us to achieve something, that’s true, but it isn’t wealth, popularity, a ton of materialism, or even a massive amount of knowledge. He wants our love, our faithfulness, our minds focused on Him and not on the things of this world. In short, God wants a personal relationship with each one of us, as uninhibited by worldly influences as possible. Most of the things that occupy our minds and lives these days are actually things of the enemy. That’s right! Anything that takes your mind off God as you push yourself to even higher pursuits of happiness gives the enemy occasion to insert his propaganda into whatever time slot he finds accessible, especially where he finds God to be absent. You might want to rethink what gives you pleasure in this world, and when you do you might just realize that much of the pleasure of this world is satanic.



“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” Proverbs 8:17-21. God doesn’t look on earthly wealth as some kind of grand accomplishment. He doesn’t care how big our home is. He’s not interested in the fleet of cars and planes we might have acquired while we live on earth. As a matter of fact, to God all of that stuff is absolutely of no use in His domain. People will do everything they can to accumulate treasures here on earth and yet they all die, at which point their endeavors of accumulating earthly treasure are abruptly finished. If they’ve done nothing in regards to what God considers important then it was all for naught. Fame and fortune are only earthly pursuits.



“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 1Timothy 6:7. What portion of those accumulated treasures do we get to take with us into Heaven? Not even one microscopic particle. Therefore, if we are born again and we know we will live forever, why store up treasures here on earth when we’re also told that all will be destroyed? “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:” Matthew 6:19.



One more thing that God wants for His people – for those who are called by His name, those who are born again, His children – is that at some point during their sojourning on planet earth, they will come to the realization that nothing materialistic, nothing of this current world will matter to their eternal existence. But that by being a positive force behind the promotion of His Kingdom they can actually store up treasure for themselves in Heaven – treasure that will be an eternal benefit to their existence in eternity. “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:20-21. God wants our hearts to be focused on Him while we avoid the trappings of materialistic pursuits. Is that possible? Absolutely. Give God your attention and watch what He does.



Isn’t it interesting how so many people seek wealth and power above all other pursuits? What would happen if they were told that even if they were to gain the whole world they have nothing if they lose their soul in the pursuit of the dream of such things? Should we tell them? Might some still listen? Don’t worry; you won’t lose out, there are still plenty of mansions to go around in Heaven.



God bless you all,



Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed