Salvation

Salvation is of the Lord. – Jonah 2:9

 

When Jonah prayed this, he was inside the belly of a whale.  There are so many people who discredit the Bible because of this story. They say, “There is no way that happened.”  Yet, Jesus confirms it in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  If what Jesus said here isn’t true, then why should John 3:16 be true?  I believe everything Jesus said was, and still is, true.

 

I think we forget that He is the creator.  He alone can create something out of nothing.  I, on the other hand, can only create stuff using the materials that He has already created.  That alone attests to how great and mighty He is.  I’m even more amazed when I realize that He continues to make something out of me. I was such a useless nothing.  I only cared about my own wants, my own needs, and my own pleasures.  I can’t imagine someone could have been more selfish and all about themselves than me. Then, one late June night in 1991, my youth pastor leads me to God.  In the same way that people can’t believe Jonah was in a whale, I can’t believe what He has done in my heart, mind, body and soul.  It just seems impossible. Salvation truly is of the Lord.  It comes from Him and Him alone.

 

I wish to my Lord and Savior that people would know Him.  I wish they would taste and see that the Lord is so good.  But, wishing isn’t going to get it done.  Prayer, on the other hand, will.  The same people who can’t believe God caused a flood, split the Red Sea, tore down the walls of Jericho, made an axe head float, kept some boys from burning in a furnace, shut the mouths of hungry lions, and opened the eyes of the blind probably believe this world is too far gone to be saved. Yet, our Good Book tells us over and over . . . our God can do anything.  I think He is waiting on a multitude of people who will pray earnestly for revival.  We must be praying as individuals every day.  We must pray together as families at least on a regular basis.  Lastly, we must pray together as groups of believers. There only needs to be at least 2 people.  “Where 2 or 3 are gathered in my Name, there I am with them.”  (Matthew 18:20)  Get another believer to pray with you today.  Pray out loud, and pray boldly.

 

Lord, salvation comes from you and you alone!  You alone make something out of nothing.  Thank you for changing me so drastically.  Thank you for the many, many hearts you have changed so drastically.  Send revival, Lord!  Change the hearts of men, women, and children.  Teach us to care about what you care about.  Let the unbelievable happen right before the eyes of men. There is no one like you.  Teach us to pray.  Teach us to want nothing more than to break from the things of this world and be alone with you.  Increase my own desire for you.  I want to know you as well as any human has ever known you.  I love you.

 

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Revival

 

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is patient toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9

 

Sometimes I wonder if we who call ourselves Christians really believe the Bible.  In no way am I getting on to “y’all out there,” I’m certainly speaking for myself.  We know that the Bible speaks of a place called Hell.  It is a place where every unrepentant, Christ-rejecting person goes. There is a wide road that takes you there and most people on this planet are on it.  If a person goes to Hell, they are there forever.  Once a person arrives there, there are no more chances.

 

This verse says that God is not willing for anybody to perish in Hell.  Now, if we are supposed to be full of the same Spirit that comes from God Himself . . . why are we so willing that people should perish?  I’ve even heard Christians just casually say that another person will wind up in hell.  I’ve even said it myself.

 

Here is the thing: That should bother us!  There is no way we should be able to say stuff like that without our heart absolutely being broken and finding a place to be alone so that we could hit our knees and pray for God to intervene.  It’s like we are just content with things going on as normal.  Don’t we want to see the lost saved en masse?  I do.  Before I leave this planet, I want to see something equivalent to the Great Awakening of the early 1700’s, or the second one in the early 1800’s.  It is 2019 . . . it is time for another one!

 

Are we willing to pray for this?  People won’t be convinced or cajoled into Heaven.  Only the conviction of God can prompt people to truly repent and turn from their sin. I’m not talking about just mumbling some prayer; I’m talking about intercessory prayer.  I’m talking about fasting.  So far, I will fast for my own family and things that matter to me, but I haven’t gone there for the lost souls I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.  If I’m honest, those souls don’t really matter to me like they should.

 

We can no longer be about “my church” or “my family,” We’ve got to join in this thing together. Prayer is the key.  We must pray as individuals in the closet, we must pray as families, and we must get together with other believers to pray out loud. We must ask the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks His.  He is not willing that any should perish.

 

Why are we?

 

Later

 

Adam

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Fruit

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .  — Galatians 5:22

I don’t know why I’ve been so aware of this lately, but people in general are pretty much miserable.   Very few people even feign happiness anymore.  When you talk to them, they all believe pretty much that a change in their environment or a change in their circumstances would make things better and, I guess, make them happier.  I remember living like this not too long ago.  I can still get caught up in this type of thinking from time to time. Fortunately, I am better at recognizing it, stopping it, and moving past it.  

Here is the thing: The Bible says that loving people that you don’t necessarily like or want in your life, having joy in your heart regardless of your current situation, and a true peace of mind are byproducts of living by faith in God and being filled with His Holy Spirit.  One can not simply manufacture love for someone he or she doesn’t like.  Neither can they manufacture joy or peace in their hearts and minds.  These are fruits produced by living God’s way.  

Over the years, I’ve seen teachers, even Christian teachers, desire for certain students to leave their class and never return.  Not one thought goes into the fact that God may have placed that student in their path to make a difference in that student’s life.  I guarantee you 100% of the time, that student is just as unhappy with his or her overall circumstances as you are with yours.  The only command we are given towards them is to love them.  You, on your own, may feel that you can’t do that, but God, through you, can.  We simply have to allow Him to do just that.  He loved you and didn’t give up on you when you weren’t all that desirable, right?

At the end of the day, don’t we all want to enjoy our work?  Don’t we all want to go home feeling good about what we do?  Don’t we want to have energy to do other things that we enjoy doing? 

I do, and I’ve learned that if I stay focused on things that I can’t do anything about, I stay miserable and I stay tired.  But, when I focus on what God has placed right in front of me to deal with, and I simply do my best to love my students and joyfully teach the subject that I love, then man, I leave my work so much happier and so much more content.  

What about you?  How do you leave work on most days?

Later. 

Adam

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The Grace of God

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Grace:  The undeserved love, mercy and favor of God on our lives, not because we earned it, but because God simply desires for us to have it.

 

Why do you believe what you believe?  Every individual must ask himself/herself the answer to that question.  Even if a person has no belief at all, they have reasoned in their heart and mind that all religions are simply wrong.  No matter what you believe, why do you believe it?

 

Right now, there is a buffet of belief systems to choose from.  They can’t all be right.  Each system has too different of an outcome to be correct.  What does happen when you die?  Many believe there will be eternal sexual pleasure, many believe they will rule their own planet somewhere in the universe, many believe they will be reincarnated and return as something else, and many others believe absolutely nothing happens after you draw that last breath.  Within each of these belief systems are a LARGE percentage of people! We are talking millions and millions of people.

 

Which system is right? That was the biggest question for me. Depending on where I was born on this planet, I would have been exposed to a very different religion or philosophy. Would I believe whatever I would have been taught depending on the region I was born?  I happened to struggle with this for a while and wanted to know if Christianity was right.  I wondered if I only believed in God because I was born in the buckle of the Bible belt.  I searched the basics of each religion, which was a lot harder to do in the non-Internet days, or at least more time consuming.

 

So, what was my conclusion? Why do I sit here and type that absolutely every other belief system, religion, philosophy, and whatever else someone believes is wrong?

 

Well, every religion and philosophy outside of Christianity requires you to perform.  Your eternity/next life is determined by how well you do in this life.  This, of course, is assuming you desire something better in your next life . . . or at least an equal existence to what you have right now.  At the core of every belief system, there seems to be this idea of doing well enough during your lifetime to earn your next life’s reward.

 

For me, grace quickly smashed all the others.  No other religion or philosophy wraps the best it has to offer in a box and says, “Here! I have a gift for you.  All you have to do is receive it.”  All of the others have strings attached.  Grace makes everyone with breath in his or her lungs eligible for salvation.  It does not matter if you are rich or poor.  It does not even matter if you are old and have almost no time or energy left in this life to do a single good deed or undo any wrong.  If you reach out and receive it . . . it is yours.  It is yours not because you are good, but because He is good.  Absolutely no Christian gets to boast about his or her salvation.  It was given to us.  Given!  I didn’t earn it.  I didn’t deserve it.  But I did receive it.  It remains 100% without a doubt, the greatest gift I’ve ever received.

 

Why in the world would the God of all the Universe give His unmerited grace to a clueless 16-year old teenager who would go on to make a countless number of bad decisions throughout his lifetime?

 

Grace.

 

Thank you, God that I don’t have to earn my salvation.  I’m just not that good.  But you, you are so good.  Thank you for the free gift of my salvation.  I look so forward to the day when my faith becomes sight.

 

Amen

 

Adam

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In the Beginning

 

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

 

So I was looking in this science book the other day.  For whatever reason, I flipped over to the “Origin of the Universe” section.  It said there were three main theories of how the universe came into existence.  Now, I remember my middle school science teacher telling me the theories and, even though I didn’t really care at the time, a Creator was mentioned as a possibility.  However, in this particular book, any kind of “intelligent design” was not mentioned.

 

I started surfing the Internet to dive in a little deeper.  It seems that new theories are constantly being thought up as to just how all this got started.  One of them that intrigued me was drummed up 15 years ago and called “Time’s Arrow.” I have to quote a paragraph from the article:

 

It is almost as if our Universe were fine-tuned to start out far from equilibrium so it could possess an arrow of time.  But, to a physicist, invoking fine-tuning is akin to saying “a miracle occurred.”  For Carroll, the challenge was finding a process that would explain the Universe’s low entropy naturally, without any appeal to incredible coincidence or (worse) a miracle.”  (Discover: Science for the Curious.  April, 2008 Issue)

 

Here this guy is basically saying, “I have to come up with a way to explain this without a miracle occurring.”  I couldn’t help but wonder why men try so hard to explain existence without God. Why do so many people want the first verse of the Bible to be untrue?

 

Here is the only thing I can think of:  If Genesis 1:1 is not true, then Hebrews 9:27 is not true either.  It says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this to face judgment.”  If I can really believe that God didn’t create all this, then that means He didn’t create me.  Therefore, I am a random accident and my actions and choices have no eternal consequences.

 

I can actually see how this would be comforting, or at the very least, numbing.  But, here is the truth: At some point in the next century I will draw my last breath.  The Bible says that I will stand before God and be judged by Him.  That is either true, or it isn’t.  So far, in 27 years of following Jesus, there is not one single thing that I’ve learned from the Bible that did not turn out to ultimately bless me when I put it into practice.  I have not proven one single thing that God has said in His Holy Book to be wrong.  Here is my conclusion and, I guess, my theory: If one reads the Bible and puts it into practice, they will absolutely know the meaning of what it means to be truly blessed . . . in this life and the next.

 

Why would anyone gamble with eternity?

 

Later

 

Adam

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What Started it All

 

Commit your plans to the Lord, and they will succeed. – Proverbs 16:3

 

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. – Colossians 3:23

 

Almost 10 years ago, a few teachers from Tamassee-Salem Middle/High School got together before school and prayed.  All teachers had been invited, but I knew the only ones that would show up were the ones who were serious about calling themselves Christians.  Originally, we tried to meet on Wednesday mornings before school.  When it got more and more difficult to meet, I started e-mailing these teachers things to think about along with a list of people and things to pray for.  Except for a few weeks here and there, I have sent a Wednesday Morning Devotional to a group of people every Wednesday since then.

 

So WMD was started for teachers who called themselves Christians to really make a difference in public schools.  What is stopping you from asking God to fill you with His Holy Spirit before you leave home? Why would you not praise Him on your way to work?  Could you say a prayer, out loud, while you touch each desk in your room before your students even come in?  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to ask God to make you the teacher He wants you to be?  I’m ashamed to admit that as I look at the first WMD I ever wrote, I’ve just not done these things consistently like I should. No wonder we are losing the spiritual battle.  The first WMD I ever wrote was sent to about six people.  Here is what it said:

 

We talked this morning about committing “whatever we do” to the Lord.  If we do this, our plans WILL succeed! (Proverbs 16:3)  I’ve made an effort to memorize this verse and say it every time I plan a lesson or start a lesson.  We talked about the difference in submitting plans and committing plans. We have to submit plans to show on paper what we are going to do.  But, when we commit these plans, we are executing them as if the Lord is our boss instead of just people (Colossians 3:23).  I know we have only had two of these meetings so far, but they have been a great encouragement.  Let’s pray that more and more will come and that we will call upon the Lord to help us. We may not be able to pray inside school and during class time, but we certainly can on our own time.  If we do, I believe God will be honored and He will help us.

 

Lord, Christians who actually take time to pray are becoming scarce. Send revival to us, Lord!  Make us a people of prayer.  I hate seeing us lose so badly.  The world and evil has upped its game on our children while we sit idly by and watch.  The children see no real deal Christians in action.  They only see powerless church attendees who are struggling just to get through the days and wishing for the weekend.  Make the church a powerful force again, Lord!  Help us to play some offense and quit getting our brains kicked in trying to play defense all the time.  With you as The Captain of our team, how can we lose?

 

Thy will be done, here on earth, as it is in Heaven.

 

Amen

 

Pray, church! Pray!  Make it the priority of your life!

 

Adam

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When Bad Things Happen

 

Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?– Job 4:7

 

In this verse Eliphaz is speaking to his friend Job.  I think he has come to comfort Job, but early in the visit, he is giving some bad theology to his suffering friend.  He is basically saying, “Job, you are suffering because you must have done something to offend God.”

 

There are times where I have believed this.  It is basically the Hindu and Buddhist doctrine of Karma where your actions eventually get what they deserve, good or bad.  The last time I believed this was when my wife and I experienced our second miscarriage.  I was certain that my two babies died because of my past sexual sins.  I just knew God was punishing me and, what could I say? I deserved it.

 

Job teaches us something though.  The Bible is clear that he was an upright and blameless man.  Yet, evil is convinced that Job is only upright and blameless because God is protecting him supernaturally.  God decides to give evil its way with Job.  Job loses his family and his health so suddenly.  Yet, in all that, Job never blames or curses God.  He wishes he hadn’t have been born, he questions God, but he never denies Him or blames Him for what is happening.

 

Eliphaz believed in the same God as Job, but He believed wrongly.  Surely he had heard the story of Cain and Abel.  Abel didn’t do anything wrong, but Cain still killed him.  He had a simple example of where the “upright was cut off.” I know Eliphaz didn’t have the first two chapters of Job like we do, but right before his very eyes, was an innocent man suffering.  In the distant future, Jesus, God Himself, would be sentenced wrongly, beaten, and crucified.

 

Whether we like it or not, suffering is a part of this world.  Nobody is immune, though it does seem that there are different degrees of suffering.  I believe it is all a test.  Can you learn to trust God, serve God, and love God during your brief sojourn on this planet?  No matter what, can you believe that “all things work together for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose”? (Romans 8:28) If you do, others have no choice but to be amazed at your countenance and attitude.  It points to the fact that there really is a peace that passes all human understanding. (Philippians 4:7)

 

It is interesting to me that the early church rejoiced when they suffered.  They counted it pure joy to be able to suffer as their Lord did. Yet, here we are trying to avoid suffering for dear life.  A Christian who embraces suffering is unstoppable.  May we stop looking for answers that we will never find this side of eternity and just trust, love, and serve God with everything we’ve got.  Our time is so short.

 

Adam

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