Sunday, August 7, 2016

Judgment Day


But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  Romans 2:5

This has been on my mind lately, so I'm just going to say it.  On Judgment Day, I don't want anyone pointing their finger at me saying, "Why didn't you tell me?"  I only want people I've known to say, "I'm so glad you told me."  I want everyone I've had contact with to know that Jesus is the ONLY WAY and that He's worth living for and giving up anything for.  Our eternal souls are at stake.  This is no time to mince words and beat around the bush.  Live and let live is nice, but not when it comes down to living in hell for eternity.  There is ONE way to avoid that fate, and His name is Jesus. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, John 6:40)  I want people to be able to see by my life what's inside my heart.  If someone sees me going astray, I sure hope they will pray for me and care enough about my soul to speak the truth in love rather than to just approve of wrong things I do or believe, because that's easier for them.  As for myself, I am telling you--make sure that you know where you're going when your time on earth is up.  (James 5:19-20)  Be ready.  (Matthew 26:41, Mark 13:32-37, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Revelation 3:2-3, Revelation 16:15)

That said, have you pondered how amazing God's creation is--from the tiniest complex detail to the vast greatness of the universe--and the fantastic variety of it all?  How humans alone were made in His image and how special that is?  (Genesis 1-2, Genesis 5:1-2, Nehemiah 9:5b-6, Psalm 104:24-25, Psalm 139:13, Psalm 148:1-13, Isaiah 40:26, Isaiah 42:5, Isaiah 45:18, Matthew 19:4, John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 1:1-2, Revelation 4:11, Revelation 10:5-7) Have you thought much about the miracle of how He actually chose to dwell in a human body at all (Matthew 1:20, Colossians 1:19-20, John 1:14), let alone for the purpose to suffer and die to save us from our eternal prison sentence of torment away from His presence?  (Romans 3:23-25, Mark 9:42-48)  Or how about the unimaginable honor He bestows on those who are His because He dwells inside of believers to seal them as His own and to help them to live in a way that pleases Him?  (Colossians 1:27, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14)  Or about the unfathomably great future He has promised us who belong to Him that we will live with Him forever--He loves us so much that He has done all of this for us and wants us to be with Him!  (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)  Wow!  Could there be any reason whatsoever for anyone to not put Him FIRST over ALL people and things in their life?  (Colossians 1:18, Hebrews 1)  I just can't think of any.  Can you?

It seems to me that to not understand His infinite worthiness of all I can give and be is to not understand who He is, what He is like, what He has done and what He is going to do--at all.  He said He expects to be first, most, best, highest in our lives--that we should love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our brother as ourselves.  (Mark 12:29-31)  He defined this love as an action, not only a feeling or empty words. (John 14:21) If we really believe, then our lives will reflect our love for God and our gratitude to Him.  (James 2:17-18)  We won't deliberately choose to do anything that will misrepresent our holy God to the world (which is different from slipping and/or struggling against temptation).  (1 Peter 1:14-19)  If we claim to believe in our hearts, then that faith is meant to work its way out for the world to see. (Philippians 2:12-16)  It should color every aspect of our day-to-day lives.  Some people say God's ENTIRE will for us is to believe, and that is ALL He expects.  My Bible says a lot more--the entire New Testament outside of the Gospels consists of letters written to CHURCHES.  Those are PEOPLE who BELIEVE (not buildings or institutions, or the general public).  Those letters are God's instructions to us on how we are to live AFTER we come to faith, of how He expects HIS people to behave.

We're here to lift up and honor His name--there is supposed to be a difference between us and unbelievers--so that they will want to know and trust in Him, too.  (John 13:34-35, John 15:8-10)  We are ONLY able to do this IF we are already saved--there is NO pleasing God without faith, NO way to earn salvation.  (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 8:7-8)  In order for any "works" to be pleasing to God, they must come AFTER repentance and acceptance of our need for Jesus as our Savior.  After He becomes our Lord, it is His Spirit within us who enables us to even care what He wants.  (Philippians 2:12-13)  If we have no concern for pleasing God whatsoever after being saved, or He comes way down on the list after loved ones, our job, our hobbies, self, etc., or if there are no nagging convictions when we sin, then "Houston, there is a problem."  (1 John 2:15-17)  God desires to be worshiped in spirit and truth, not with mere routine or talk that doesn't match our walk.  (John 4:23-24, 1 John 2:3-6)  If we really believe He sees all and is worthy of all, then why wouldn't our behavior, thoughts and words show it?  (And again on the flip side, if we don't believe, then why bother?  Only those who have the Son also have the Father.  Matthew 11:27, 1 John 2:23, John 3:35-36)  Not one of us will ever be perfect until Jesus makes us so, but there should be steady progression toward being like Christ.  (2 Peter 1:5-11, Romans 8:29, Romans 12:1-2)  After all God has done for us, do we really need to be threatened in order to obey Him?  Shouldn't we do it out of LOVE for Him, especially seeing how it is His power within us that enables us to love and obey Him?

Jesus is returning for His own soon. (John 14:2-3, Philippians 3:20-21, Hebrews 10:35-39, Revelation 3:11, 22:12) Only God knows exactly how soon, but the signs of the times that He gave the disciples are happening before our eyes, and there were many other warnings about what the end times would be like in the letters (epistles) of Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude to believers.  Let's be ready so that we don't have anything to be ashamed of on that day.  (Matthew 24-25)  Jesus is faithful to forgive when we sin and is the ONLY one who can wash us clean, but salvation is freedom FROM sin, not a license TO sin.  (Romans 6:1-2, Galatians 5:13)  We are not meant to rush back to get ourselves "dirty" again once He washes us, but to yield to the Holy Spirit's prompting and assistance in remaining clean.  (2 Peter 2:18-22)  If there is no difference between the way we live and the way unbelievers live, then how will people notice a difference and wonder why we have the hope and peace that they want?  (1 Peter 2:15-16, 1 Peter 3:15-16) God LOVES us!  Isn't that wonderful?  He didn't create us to ask us to do the impossible and then condemn us.  He came to rescue us because He is holy--He cannot and will not tolerate sin, but He wants ALL to be saved and has made ONE way: Jesus.  (John 3:35-36, 1 John 5:10-12)  Hallelujah (Praise God)!

Let's read our Bibles for ourselves so that we know truth from false teachings (and partial truth mixed with twisted or truncated scriptures). (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 2 Timothy 4:1-4, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 2:1-3, 2 Peter 3:16-18)  We need to know our Scripture so that we are not deceived by deliberate, orchestrated attacks on God's truth (the ONLY truth). (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, Acts 20:29-32)  We need to know what the Bible says so that we will not mistakenly join sides with those AGAINST God and His ways, who are pretending to be shepherds of His fold, but are really wolves and thieves coming to destroy the flock.  (Matthew 7:15, John 10:7-10, Acts 20:29-30)  God does not change.  (Numbers 23:19, Psalm 55:19, Hebrews 13:8)  He has always hated sin and loves us enough to have laid all of the punishment for OUR sin on His only begotten Son, Jesus (the ONLY way to be saved).  (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)  That doesn't mean He now winks at sin, but that we can be forgiven through the unbelievably precious blood of Jesus.  (1 John 2:1-6)

It almost seems as though people these days are opposed to "judging" other believers for sin, but they have no problem with judging their Christian brothers and sisters for trying to live as God instructed, calling it self-righteousness.  They say we can't judge someone's heart to see if they are saved or not by looking at the [lack of, or bad] fruits (behaviors, priorities, results) of their life, and then turn around and judge someone else's heart to say they are trying to earn salvation, so they might not be saved, since salvation is only by faith not works.  Let me just say this--if we don't believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, then there is NO pleasing God--it ALL starts and ends with Jesus.  ALL of our behavior and the way we think reflect on Him, whether honorably or poorly.  (Matthew 5:14-16, Ephesians 1:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, 2 Timothy 2:19, 1 John 3:1-10, 1 Peter 1:14-19)

We each need to judge our OWN lives using the Bible as a measuring stick because it's God's instruction book on what pleases Him (and what does not). (2 Corinthians 13:5, James 1:22-24, Ephesians 5:8-12, Ephesians 5:15-17)  Then we can look forward to Judgment Day with great anticipation!  (2 Timothy 4:8, Revelation 11:18)  I pray that it will be a blissfully happy day with no tears due to loss of reward (not to mention the pain of disappointing our Savior) for you and for myself.  (1 Corinthians 3:14-15)  Please Lord, help us all in these evil times to obey You and not to blend in with the world and be deceived.  Please make us lights in this dark, misled generation to illuminate the way to You, through Jesus, our beloved Savior.  On Judgment Day, we want to hear You say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."  Amen.  (Philippians 2:14-16, Matthew 25:23, Ephesians 5:15-21)

If you don't believe, but are curious, then call on God from your heart--He hears you. (Genesis 21:17, Psalm 139:1-4, 145:18-20, Psalm 94:9, Romans 10:1-13)  We were created by Him FOR Him, so if you are unhappy and don't know why or what it would take to change that, He is the answer.  He is the provider of EVERYTHING we could ever need. (Romans 11:36)  He loves us.  I can't say it enough.  This is not just for certain special people. No one loves God because they are "good."  We love Him because He FIRST loved us, and "us" includes everyone.  (1 John 4:9-10)  He doesn't want anyone to perish, but He has made ONE way--His Son.  (John 3:16-18, 1 Timothy 2:3-6, 2 Peter 3:9)  Jesus did this for us willingly because He loves us.  (John 10:14-18)  None of us could possibly imagine the amount of pain and humiliation that Jesus suffered or the intense pain of the Father in sacrificing His only begotten, beloved Son to save us--to rescue us from sin and its penalty.  (Psalm 22:6-8, 2:12-18, Isaiah 52:14, 53:3-5, Matthew 27:27-31, Matthew 17:5)  Have you ever had anyone disrespect a gift you gave them?  How much more, unimaginably offensive is it to reject God's gift of salvation through His Son?  (Hebrews 10:29-31)

You may look around you and see that it seems like many "good" or "nice" people, many of whom you may consider to be "smarter" than you, do not believe, and their lives seem okay to you from the outside.  (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7)  While the inside may be a different story, the fact is that everyone who dies without Christ will be separated from God for eternity.  You don't want to go where they are going.  (Psalm 37, 73, Revelation 20:15) Jesus said that many would be offended by Him. (Matthew 11:6)  He was predicted to be, and is, a stumbling block for many who do not want to submit to God's sovereign plan.  (Romans 9:32-33, Matthew 11:6)  Don't trust the opinions of the crowd and go with the flow!  There will be no "phone a friend" or "ask the audience" option and that's a good thing because Jesus said the way to life was narrow and the way to destruction was broad. (Matthew 7:13-14) Don't wait to see Him in person on Judgment Day to get right with Him--it will be too late then and what a wasted life that would be.  Your life can have meaning NOW.  You can have a relationship with your loving Creator NOW. (John 10:9-10) What a privilege!  Don't put it off and have bitter, eternal regrets.  Each of us will answer for ourselves.  (John 5:22-24, Romans 14:11-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10) There will be no blaming scientists or popular culture to explain why we rebelled against and rejected God and His ways, preferring our own way.  (Isaiah 53:6, Proverbs 14:12)

If you want to be saved, all you have to do is admit to God you are a sinner (we ALL are) and ask His forgiveness.  (Romans 3:22b-25, 6:23, Psalm 86:5)  Each of us need to tell Him that we BELIEVE in our heart that Jesus died for OUR sins and rose again from the dead.  Tell Him out loud (confess with your mouth) that you want Jesus to be YOUR Lord and, to wash you clean so that you can be with Him forever. (1 John 1:9, Romans 10:8-10) Ask Him to grant you repentance from your sins and unbelief and to help you live in a way that pleases Him (read your Bible--He has it all written down for us). (2 Timothy 2:24-26)  When we truly believe, we are "born again," which means God's Holy Spirit brings to new life our spirit and He dwells inside of us. (Matthew 3:11, John 3:6-7, Acts 11:16, Titus 3:5-7)  We were first born physically as a baby, but being born AGAIN is to be born spiritually as a child of God.  (John 1:12-13)

Jesus has also instructed us to be baptized in water (Matthew 28:18-20)--this signifies outwardly how inwardly our old, doomed, stubborn, rebellious, sinful self has been "drowned" (died/crucified with Christ) and we rise out of that water as a NEW creation in Christ, in His victory on the cross, alive in His resurrection. (Colossians 3:3-10, Romans 6:3-12, 13:14, Galatians 3:27)  We are washed clean not by the water (which would be works, and in the case of infant baptism, the works of the parents), but by the precious blood Jesus shed for us on the cross (each person individually, personally saved by faith in God's grace--washed in the living "water" OF THE WORD--Jesus). (1 John 1:7-10, Ephesians 5:25-27, James 1:18) It's a beautiful, memorable event for the believer--if you do not remember being baptized and may not have even been aware of it happening at the time--then perhaps you might like to do a study on it to decide for yourself what God's will is on the subject.  I have written one here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0Bx44W_xQvLzoNVlQampxZUctelU

A quote by J.C. Ryle, who died in England in 1900: "Oh, reader, let us realize this point! There is before us all a great change. Surely, when a man has notice to quit his present dwelling-place, he ought to make sure that he has before him another home...  Oh, that you may think on this matter, and never rest till you are ready to meet Christ!"

Please see the downloadable pdf article "Judgment Day" on the right side bar for all of the verses referenced.

Digital scrapbook paper and elements by Lorie Davison, page texture by me