Ever wonder what God might have to say to YOU today? Here are things to ponder, and things to receive into your heart. If you have a question, put it in the comments. I respond as much as I can.

A note for all my readers: I've been experimenting with YouTube videos for Bible teaching, and now I'm working my way through the New Testament. I encourage you to subscribe to my YouTube channel for better coverage. I'm still writing, of course, and my written posts appear here.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

On becoming Christian:

Becoming Christian hinges on three things:
1. What you believe about Jesus Christ. John 3:16:
“God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son (“Unique”) so that everyone who believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (eternal life).
God has made it very clear that His Son is the unique individual in the universe. As I’ve heard it put, He is “God and Man, united in one Person forever.” Jesus is God. He is Man. If you do not believe this, you are not Christian. If you do, that’s the first step.

2. What you believe about Jesus Christ’s death: 1 Cor. 15:3:-4:
3 Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…
According to Scripture, there are several things here: first, Jesus “died for our sins.” Elsewhere, and where the Jewish sacrifices are discussed, we read that “His blood cleanses us;” Paul doesn’t mention that here, but it’s definitely in his mind, Jew that he was.
So first, then, Jesus died for our sins. He gave His life so that you might be “sin-free,” and meet God without fear of judgment;
Second, Jesus was buried. He was really dead. He was not merely in a coma. He was DEAD.
Third, He rose again, according to the Scriptures. This is a one-time event for that day. It had never happened before, but it will happen again, when Christians rise from their graves.
If you believe He died “for our sins, and rose again,” that’s step two.

3. Step three is personal: YOU have to believe this for yourself. You believe He is THE Savior, but is He YOUR Savior? It’s all very personal, very individual.  Nobody else can believe for you, and you are not a Christian because your parents are, your Church is Christian, your best friends are Christian. You are a Christian because you have come to Him in prayer (He’s seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven, and hears you), and asked for His Salvation, His forgiveness, eternal life. This is a decisive “Faith-act.” You believe. Then you come to Him. And you make it personal, between Him and you.
Two things:
Romans 10:13: Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. That includes you.
John 6:37: “...The one who comes to Me, I will NOT (ever) cast out.” (Jesus is speaking here). In order to reject you, He has to reject His own promise. He will not do that. He “cannot lie.”
So.  The question. Are you ready to come to Him, and receive all that He has to offer?

If you don’t fully understand, that’s OK. Understanding often comes AFTER you come to Him. When I became a Christian, at age 18, I literally knew NOTHING, except that I needed to do this. I knew I didn’t have eternal life. After I came to Him, I knew that I DID. The blessings come with coming to Him, and asking for Him to be your Savior. He promises to receive you. Trust me. If He received me (and keeps me around), He’ll receive you.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Which Bible? (For English Speakers)

I've been reading some articles about "which version is the best English Version" recently, and I've found some helpful information, some promotions (OUR Bible is the BEST!!!), some that "put down" certain versions, and lots of information, mostly indigestible.
So here is what I hope is an article that helps you:
First, let's consider popularity:
1. Top Selling Bibles in 2018, according to the ECPA (an organization that tracks Christian Booksellers):

Note that the NIV is first (eminently readable, popular with many folk), but that the KJV and NKJV occupy two of the top slots.
I'm sad to say that one of my favorites, the NASB, has sunk to #10, probably because it's neither as well-known as the KJV nor as readable as the NIV. The ESV and NLT hold top spots, the ESV because it's used in many Reformed churches, and the NLT because it's a "commentary in a Bible"--in other words, a paraphrase, or a re-interpreted Bible.

2. Most READ Bible:

Interesting facts. The KJV is still the most read Bible in the US. Why? Probably because it has a lot going for it--for one thing, many people are wedded to it. For another, it is still unsurpassed in elegance of language and quotable verses and phrases. It's also rhythmic and powerful, and accurate (despite what some of its detractors say).  The NIV, though the top seller, is only one third as popular when you consider what's the most read Bible. For further confirmation, here is some other statistical info (variances in percentage probably reflect "who got asked"):

All this leads to the question, "Which is the best Bible for ME?"
I have had significant experience teaching through a number of versions. The easiest to TEACH is a "modified KJV;" I modify it "on the fly" with my own alterations and explanations. A close second is the NASB, which I like because it's accurate. I have taught Bible classes using the NIV, the NASB, the NKJV, and the KJV.

Many years ago, when I was doing home Bible studies as a pastor, I found that many in my congregation could not understand the KJV, or even the NKJV (New King James).  The sentence structure of the NASB (New American Standard Bible) was too confusing, and the people who couldn't "get" other versions could easily understand the NIV. I had one participant who confessed he was dyslexic, and could never have understood the KJV or other versions. He needed the NIV. So that's what I used.

The point is that not everyone understands language in the same way. Some "get" the KJV, and it's actually not that difficult once you work through it a bit, but there are some folk who will never understand it, because their reading skills are just not that strong.  It's pretty pointless to argue that the "Best" version is the NASB or the KJV if the person you're discussing this with can't understand what's written. if I wanted to be really unfair about this, I could demand of all the "KJV only" folk that they read only the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek. After all, I understand it, and it's the perfect Word of God, in the original languages. However, the only people who would then understand the Bible would be people like me, who have spent years studying the original languages. The Bible writers discuss this in various places:
1. Paul, writing to Timothy in 1 Tim. 3:15-17:
...from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired (God Breathed) by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

It is almost certain that Timothy did not have or know the Scriptures in Hebrew, but rather in the Greek translation known as the "Septuagint," translated in Alexandria around 275 BC. This particular translation is not used much in translating the Bible into English, because it is far from perfect. Yet Paul essentially encouraged Timothy to use it. Why? Because it's what he knew and understood.

Another passage that specifically speaks to this issue of understanding is found in Nehemiah 8:8:
They read from the book, from the law of God, translating (NIV, explaining) to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
The people of Nehemiah's day were returnees from Babylon, Persia and other areas where they had been dispersed after the conquest of Israel and Judah. They had lost their understanding of Scripture and in some cases of the language, so Ezra translated (NIV, "explained") the text for them so that they could understand. 

All I'm saying here is that, as you plan your Bible reading, use a Bible YOU comprehend. Otherwise, you're wasting your time, because for God to reveal Himself to you, you must understand what He says. 
It's like this: Romans 10:14:
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? And here we add, "How can people understand the truths they've heard if they don't understand the language?" Paul actually says this exact thing, in regard to the gift of tongues, 1 Cor. 14:8-12: 
For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.
The point is that words that give no understanding also give no value to the person who hears them.
Take Paul's words to heart. Always seek understanding. Always seek to give understanding. Aside from the popular arguments about tongues (for today, not for today), it's clear that the kind of language Paul meant was understandable vs. incomprehensible.
If you love the KJV, that's great. I love it, too. If you love the NIV, that's good as well. I'm not a fan (since they sold out to the gender-neutral crowd), but if you understand it, then it's the one for you. If you like the ESV, fine. It's very good. If you read Hebrew and Greek, good for you. However, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to understand, receive, and obey what God says to you in His Word, and to communicate that understanding to other people. If you militate for the KJV but won't obey what God says in that book, for shame! If you find the NIV the most helpful version, and you hear, receive, and obey God's voice as He speaks to you, praise God! Tell other people about Him, in language THEY understand.
What I'm saying here, in conclusion, is that your "listening ear" is the key, and helping yourself  & others understand the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is essential. The version that does that for you is the version to use.
I'll close these thoughts with a story. I was in Durango, Colorado this summer as part of a vacation. I went into this Western store, and the clerk there was almost the only other person in the store. I saw she was reading a Bible. It was an ancient hardcover, and I could tell it was the "Amplified Version" by its appearance. She told me that her friend had lent that Bible to her so she could read it. He had owned it for 45 years. It was marked and worn, and it looked as if some of the pages were falling out. It was obviously well-read, used extensively, and the woman who was now reading it was new to the faith, but she understood what she was reading, and that's what mattered. I hope that you understand, receive, and obey the Word of God. It will lead you to God, and then to heaven.
God bless you all.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Chicken or the Egg...

The old question, "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg," is answered clearly in the Bible, if you're considering the issue of morals and spirituality. The Bible always and everywhere affirms that the foundation of morality is spirituality, not the other way around, and by that it means, not just "any" spirituality, but specifically the spirituality commended by the Bible itself, the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I've recently been reading the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, and it's amazing how clearly false spirituality and evil are linked. Of course, it's really no surprise, because God tells us, in both the Old and New Testaments, that rejecting Him is the foundation of moral destruction.
Evil is a consequence of rejecting God, rather than the cause of it. Hear what Jeremiah says:
(Jeremiah 2:13):
My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns (the idols that Israel worshipped), that can hold no water.
The result:
(Jeremiah 2:19):
"Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you; Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God, And the dread of Me is not in you," declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
(Jeremiah 7:30-32):
"For the sons of Judah have done that which is evil in My sight," declares the LORD, "they have set their detestable things in the house which is called by My name, to defile it. "They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind. "Therefore, behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when it will no longer be called Topheth, or the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the Slaughter; for they will bury in Topheth because there is no other place.
The consequence of rejecting God is that you become evil. The consequence of becoming evil is punishment and death. These things are inexorably linked. It may be long in coming, but it will come.

The New Testament says the same thing, for those who think that the game has changed:
(Romans 1:18-32):
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,
29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,
30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;
32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
There is a great deal of social commentary here, and I leave you to read it. For those who disagree with what's written above, remember that I'm quoting it, not inventing it. I'm the messenger, not the author. 
For those who believe that I think I'm "better" than they are, I've also been guilty of some of these things. In other words, I'm on the same level as you, not above. The points, though, of the Romans passage are clear: 
First comes the rejection of God. The consequence of that is a sort of spiritual insanity, in which we literally "go off the rails;" Next, God withdraws His hand of restraint, and moral insanity follows spiritual insanity. Finally, there is a settled state of evil: you reject God, you hate, you do evil, you worship false gods, you fill your lives with evil, and you think it's fine to do so. You "heartily approve" of people who are evil.
This, however is not the endpoint. Judgment and punishment are. The Bible teaches that God will "Judge the secrets of men."
(Romans 2:16: God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus...).
Imagine that. All the difficulty in obtaining true testimony, all the problems getting the facts (I live in the US, and we are suffering through a period of lies and hiding that's unprecedented here), will be gone. All is recorded. All is known. It's just not revealed--yet. All will be revealed, all will be judged, and punishment will be administered where it is appropriate.

THIS is why it is so important to be right spiritually. False spirituality (in the Bible, the worship of idols, etc.) is the root of all personal destruction. The reason is simple. There are not three ways, or many ways. There are two ways. God's way, and the devil's way. Paul said, referring to idols (and if he were writing now he would discuss many other forms of "religion"), "The things that the Gentiles (unbelievers) sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God."
For those who believe that Satan is worthy of worship, I have two words: 
(Matthew 4:10)
Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'"
(Revelation 20:10)
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Evil has consequences. It does. Spiritual evil precedes moral evil, and the final consequence for those is not "nothing," as some would have you believe, but eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire, which is, despite what some think, a real place.

The answer for all that?
"Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."  (Acts 20:21)
Jesus came to deliver us from all that the devil has for us, and from the consequences of us accepting that. 
(Acts 26:18):
["I am sending you," said Jesus to Paul], "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me."

Your future is in your hands, whoever you are, wherever you may be. Turn to God, renounce everything false, including the Devil and his works, and allow God, through His Son, Jesus Christ, to give you the forgiveness of all your sins and everlasting life. 

It does not matter who you are, how deeply you've fallen, or how much you have worshipped and done evil. 
Repentance answers all.
Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ brings light. Eternal life. Forgiveness. Cleansing. Happiness. "Joy unspeakable and full of glory."

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fury and Kindness In Is. 63:

Isaiah 63 begins with fury. For you who think that God is only a God of mercy, this is a confusing chapter, until you get to verse 7.
Nobody likes judgment. We all want to escape it. So when the Bible says this,

"It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment," everyone gets a chill or two--because we are included in that judgment, and we secretly wonder, "How will I fare?" Isaiah 63 is like that. It focuses first on the terrible fury of God, how His Messiah is not all sunlight and roses, but tough judgment as well:
Is. 63:1-6:
1   Who is this who comes from Edom, With garments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."
2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?
3 "I have trodden the wine trough alone, And from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger And trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, And I stained all My raiment.
4 "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, And My year of redemption has come.
5 "I looked, and there was no one to help, And I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, And My wrath upheld Me.
6 "I trod down the peoples in My anger And made them drunk in My wrath, And I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

Here we see, at the beginning of the chapter, that God (His Messiah), comes in "righteousness, mighty to save." First, however, is utter destruction to His enemies, with no mercy, no pity. It's easy to think that God has changed His mind about His mercy, but the point is that there are always two classes of people: People to whom God shows mercy, and people to whom He shows His judgment and fury. These two classes are self-determining, in the sense that they decide who they are, and you are in one class or the other. There is NO third class of people who "may" get mercy, or "may" get judgment. It's always just the two.

So here's how God looks at the second class of people:
Is. 63:7-9:
7 I shall make mention of the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, "Surely, they are My people, Sons who will not deal falsely." So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the angel of His presence saved them; In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.

He wanted to save them. He DID save them. In Egypt. In the days of the judges. With King David, and many more times. However, these same people managed to move themselves from God's mercy to God's judgment, because they rejected Him:

Is. 63:10:
10 But they rebelled And grieved His Holy Spirit; Therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them...

And then, of course, when they all saw the judgment arrive, they wanted to get rid of that terrible experience, so they turned back to God, but still they were plagued with the suffering they caused themselves, the consequences of their deeds:

Is. 63:11-19:

11 Then His people remembered the days of old, of Moses. Where is He who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit in the midst of them,
12 Who caused His glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, Who divided the waters before them to make for Himself an everlasting name,
13 Who led them through the depths? Like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble;
14 As the cattle which go down into the valley, The Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So You led Your people, To make for Yourself a glorious name.
"You Are Our Father" 
15 Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation; Where are Your zeal and Your mighty deeds? The stirrings of Your heart and Your compassion are restrained toward me.
16 For You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us And Israel does not recognize us. You, O LORD, are our Father, Our Redeemer from of old is Your name.
17 Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage.
18 Your holy people possessed Your sanctuary for a little while, Our adversaries have trodden it down.
19 We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, Like those who were not called by Your name.

This is an awful result--longing for mercy, compassion and grace, but unable to find it, because the suffering is not over; God has not returned. This is a pattern for many of us. We find Him. We serve Him. We fail Him. We repent. The consequences of our foolishness are still with us. It happens. The answer, of course, is that we have to "wait it out," sometimes till we meet Him face to face, other times He reverses His judgments and we gain relief from the consequences of our deeds.

It is especially difficult when we are in situations like this to be honest with ourselves, and say, "These things happened because of ME." in Isaiah's case, he's referring to the national tragedy that literally destroyed their nation--their attachment to idols and the practices related to them. It would take me hours to describe all these evils, but here's a small quote: "Even their sons and their daughters have they burned in the fire..." The practices of idolatry, as a later writer tells us, are Satanic in nature, and pollute and destroy the people who do them. God, in His wise and righteous judgment, will not let this continue, and punishes the people who worship these false gods. In the same way, when we obsess over something, and let it rule our lives, it becomes a "spiritual idol," which Satan then uses against us. We think we are "OK," just like the drunk or drug addict who believes he's all right and "can control his habit." Of course we are not "OK." We are in the process of destroying ourselves with this "thing," or things.
What's especially tragic is that we often justify this behavior ("I have to have those drugs to keep me going;" "I need this sexual experience;" "Money is good...")
The truth is that ANY thing that becomes an idol is BAD. It destroys you, and the consequences you experience will override whatever you get from that "thing."
The answer, of course, is still to repent, and then wait. God shows His mercy right away, gives you back His love and compassion, but you may, as Israel did, find that your daily experiences come as the result of your past sins. You will often have to wait for Him to let these things work their way out of your life.
They will. It may take time--even all the way to your final hours and your meeting with Him at the Throne of God, but there you will receive His full mercy, the days of your pain will end, and He will wipe away all the tears from your eyes.
Sometimes it just takes time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Life WITH God.

I  assume that  many who read this blog, or watch the videos, are Christian. So today I'm writing directly to you, but indirectly to anyone who wants to seek God and have His presence fill their lives from day to day.
Christians don't all have a "Life with God." Every Christian CAN, of course, but not all do. The question is "Why?" Of course, the first question is, "What is that "life with God" that you're writing about?" and the answer is that it's the life you were intended to have by the Almighty, in full and constant communication with Him at all times--but something has gone wrong. A life with God can be defined as one in which God is always consciously present in our spirits, and where He is able to communicate with us as He desires (He IS always present, but sometimes we miss Him, and sometimes badly.). In other words, from our side, "we have our ears on," and we are ready to hear what He has to say and follow the directions He has to give.

Here are some thoughts on the "how" of gaining and maintaining communication with the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ:

  1. The Problem: We may not actually want to hear what He has to say. Lots of things hurt our ability to communicate with Him: guilt, fear, anger, envy, sexual desire, unrequited love, greed, and so forth. When these things, or any of them, rule our lives, they are like terrible smells that prevent us from smelling the roses in our gardens. In the same way, God's Spirit is always seeking to communicate with us, but if our attention is elsewhere (that cool guy, that pretty girl, how much money), we don't hear. His voice is muted. Of course, it's good to want someone in your life, and you have to have money, but I'm talking about focus at this point. Sometimes we have only one thing in focus in our lives, and we miss everything else (which is why Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and Money," Matt. 6:24). However, here's the way to prevent messing up the life we can have life with Him, and still enjoy the good things in the world around us--our temporal life:
  2. Don't make this thing you want an idol. You may love him or her, you may want that job, that car, that vacation, but you have to allow your desire to be subject to your desire for God and His will ("Delight yourself in the LORD, and HE will give you the desires of your heart"--Ps. 37:4). It's not the easiest thing, but you can do it, and the way is to maintain communication with Him. Of course, there's the added benefit: Putting Him first (delighting in Him) gets you more of what you want than making the "thing" your goal. How to do this? On your side, it's two things: Let Him be first, and listen to Him. That's not always easy, especially if there is something you really want, or you feel overwhelming guilt over some issue in your life. However, you can do it, if you practice. Here's the thing. The spiritual life IS mostly practice. It involves paying attention to the truly important, and minimizing your attention on the less important. What's important? First, the things that are forever. That's MOST important. Then, things that last a lifetime. That's second. Finally, the stuff that changes.
  3. Most of us invert the order above--we pay attention to the stuff that matters least, and focus on those things, rather than paying attention to the most important things and focusing on them. The only thing it takes to change this is refocusing once you find that your focus has changed, and the MOST important takes a back seat. I have a couple tools to help you with that:
  4. First off, read your Bible. You will get God's perspective on life, the world, yourself, your spouse, girlfriend, children, money, your job, everything. Note that I did NOT say "go to church." You should, but the most important thing in your life is to allow God to speak to you personally. He does that through both His Word (the Bible) and His Spirit, but when you read you can consciously eliminate your focus on all else and pay attention to Him alone. He speaks to us through His Spirit, but there are lots of deceiving influences around, and the Bible puts our minds right--it "fixes us," so to speak. Of course, you have to be listening to get anything out of it, so listen.
  5. Next, listen for the promptings of His Spirit. I can't tell you exactly how this works, and after over a half century as a Christian, I can tell you that I don't do it as well as I should, but listening to Him and doing what He says will benefit you more in the long run than anything else you do. Of course, you shouldn't exclude the Bible from your listening times, because sometimes God seems to speak directly to us through His Word. Other times, we are gathering information and help for the future.
  6. Most times, prayer helps as much as anything. Many times I awaken at night, exercised about something(s), and I pray until I fall back asleep. God has sustained me and answered me many times this way. You ought always to be close enough to God to pray about anything He lays on your heart (speaks to you about), and respond to Him when He speaks further
The single most important thing I can say about these 6 things is PRACTICE. Practice makes possible things you thought you could never do--and one of the main ones is to be a truly spiritual person in the world we live in, difficult as it is. 
You can do it. You will not fail, if only you apply yourself and practice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Some personal thoughts.

I don't often refer to myself, or discuss my situation, but I would like to ask you all (all my readers) for prayer. Yesterday evening, I was walking through the littlr town of Estes Park, and I happened upon a shop where the person at the counter had her Bible open away from the register. It was an old Amplified Bible, re-covered, she said, multiple times. She said a friend had loaned it to her, and she was reading it in preference to the others she had. Anyway, she and I chatted a few moments, and I went away, happy to meet another believer who loved God and His word. Last night, I had a dream. I don't often have prophetic dreams, but this was , I think, God speaking to me through my dream. I saw myself in that dream, having the same conversation that I just described, but then I gave her a card inscribed with this blog's address, my YouTube channel, and the link for my Kindle books.
Then it was like I realized, "I should be doing this."
The dream, of course, was correct. I should be ministering every chance I get, and because I've now written and posted quite a bit, there is lots of material to work with.
So I have a request. Actually, a couple of them.

1. Pray for me, and this ministry. I'm quite serious about it, and the hiatuses in posting videos or writings have to do with my sense of what God wants me to say, rather than any laziness. I find that I have to think about what I'm going to say or write before it "crystallizes," and when there are days between posts, it's usually because my thinking on a paticular topic isn't complete.

2. When you see that I've posted a video, or writing, pray for that specific post, and for the one to follow. I believe that every ministry is a team effort, and that those who pray are at least as important as those who write and speak. I want to minister to the people who see my posts as well as I can, and that requires a three way teamwork. You, me, and the Holy Spirit as the real Worker in everything. Without Him, we can do nothing (which, of course, means "not ONE thing."

3. My goal is to have one million YouTube subscribers, and to have a ministry that reaches wherever you are. One of the problems with this is that YouTube apparently doesn't "see" when you watch a video onthe blog. So I appeal to you to watch my videos on YouTube, to comment, like and subscribe. This should help. A lot.

Above all, pray for me. I do this so that you, and everyone who has a computer, a phone, or a tablet, may come to know the living and true God, and to follow Him. It's a journey that begins here, and ends in heaven, with all of us living forever. It's my heart's desire that we go on this journey together---that you, and everyone you know, obtains life eternal in following Jesus Christ.

--Your friend, Steve Bradley.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

How bad can you be?

And still receive God's gift of salvation?

Here's a thought: Look at Acts 2:22-23:

22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know--
23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death."

This was the worst crime throughout time and space, for Jesus was the Holy Son of God, God and man united in one Person forever.

Not only so, but Jesus was a good and godly man:
Acts 10:38: "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. (these were the opening words of Peter's message to Cornelius the Centurion and his friends)...

He did no harm to anyone; instead, He healed and preached and did many other good works, which John tells us "that if all the things Jesus did were put into books, the world could not hold them." (John 21:25)

He was no sinner: Instead, He was "tempted in all points just as we are, yet he was without sin."

So Jesus' murder was literally a killing of an innocent for no reason (on the human side) other than envy and rage at Him. 

Now ask yourself. "What's the proper punishment for this killing?" Suppose this was YOUR son. YOUR daughter? What would be fair and right? I believe that most of us would devise some sort of lengthy torture ending in death. Now consider that this killing was against the Ruler of the Universe.

Just think about that for a minute. Infinite power, combined with infinite knowledge, combined with constant Presence, combined with infinite rage. Suppose on the other hand that YOU had done this thing. What could you expect from the King of the Universe? Now suppose further that the Person to whom you had done this didn't stay dead--not like a Zombie, but He rose from the dead because "He could not be held by it." So here you have the Father and the Son. The Son still has His scars. He's literally been to Hell and back. Who will pay? Is there sufficient punishment in all eternity for you, if you did this?

Note the final accusation here: (2:36) "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."

This is a way of saying, "You are dead meat." 

Now see what happens in Acts:

First, the question: Acts 2:37: Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" (Pierced to the heart means that they knew they were guilty).

Now observe Peter's answer (Acts 2:38-39):

38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself."

Wait! What?!

That's IT? "Repent?" Receive Christ? Turn to God? That's ALL?

Yes. That's all. That's everything, and that's enough.

Remember. This was the worst crime that ever has been, or ever will be, committed in all of space and time. These people were GUILTY. And they knew it.

So how bad can you be? Ask those Jews. Ask Cornelius, to whom Peter said, (Acts 10:43) "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

Any sin. All sins. Every sin. Including, most famously, the murder of the Son of God. 

So how bad are you? NEVER tell me that you are too bad to be saved. NEVER say, "God won't forgive me." NEVER say it, because it's the worst lie you can tell yourself, or that the Devil can whisper in your ear. NEVER SAY IT. God has made Jesus The Judge of the living and the dead, and HE said: "He who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24).

There is literally nothing you can do that will keep you from heaven, except rejecting the Son of God, for the Bible says:
"Whoever believes in the Son has everlasting life; whoever does not believe in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests directly on him." (My paraphrase).

You want eternal life? Doesn't matter what you've done. You can be forgiven and set free.

Repent. Turn to God. Receive His Son as your Lord and Savior. Do it now. He will accept you. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I've been reading...2 Corinthians 5:1-21

If you want to understand exactly how FREE your salvation is, read 2 Cor. 5. This is truly an amazing chapter. Consider some of the statements:

5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

5:5  Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

5:14-16:  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that  (the) ONE died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.

5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

5:18-19: Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (when Christ died), not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

5:21: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

"Not counting their trespasses..." He died for all..."Him who died and rose again on their behalf..." "He made Him who KNEW NO SIN to be SIN ON OUR BEHALF... that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

There truly is no love like the love of God, no mercy like His, No salvation like His, and no salvation without Him. Imagine, on the other hand, rejecting Jesus Christ, whom God allowed to be crucified for you, and seeking another path. Imagine the worst insult you could pay to the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ--it would be this: to treat His infinite sacrifice as nothing, and try to get eternal life and heaven on your own or by some other means. "Many paths to God?" Don't believe it. Why would God, whose Son paid the price for your every sin, accept you taking "another path?" Why would the Son say, "It doesn't matter?" It mattered to Him--enough so that He took the hardest path Himself so that you could receive eternal life.
God provided it, but you won't take it? You would so insult the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? You would make His crucifixion, His pain, His death as nothing? If you do that, you are a fool indeed. On the other hand, if you will just reach out and take the salvation He freely offers, and accept it as it's offered, as a gift, YOU WILL LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM IN HEAVEN.