Make the Most Important Decision of Your Life

… so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:10-11

There’s not much in life that you can count on with certainty, except for death and taxes as they say. 

However, as surely as we’ll die and as surely as we’ll be taxed by the government, there is something else that we can be certain of—and it’s that every single one of us will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.

You don’t have to agree with that statement; however, you’ll still be wrong. Even if you don’t believe in what the Bible says, it doesn’t make it any less true. 

As I pointed out in a recent post about salvation, if the Christian is wrong and you’re right about what happens after we die, then you’ve lost nothing. 

However if the Christian is correct about the afterlife and you’re wrong, you’ve lost a whole lot. So, just using plain old logic and nothing else, it’s better to err on the side with the least possible loss.

Therefore, with the thought in mind that every human being who has ever lived will someday confess that Jesus is Lord and came in the flesh as God’s Son—what do you choose to believe today?

The real question is this: Will you choose to accept Christ as Lord now while you can of your own free will?

Or will you do it when Jesus comes back to earth—though not by choice but by submission and fearful respect paid to the almighty God?

The choice is yours as to when you acknowledge that Jesus came as God in the flesh, was crucified for your sins, and was resurrected by the Father.

I hope that you’ll make that choice now, willingly. 

Because, if not, when you do recognize Christ as Lord, it will be too late for you. The time will have expired and your eternal destiny will already have been sealed—a destiny forever cut off from God and His everlasting love.

Today—right now—it’s not too late. Accept Jesus into your heart as Lord. Acknowledge your sin and brokenness, and ask Him for forgiveness.

Repent and make a change in your life to live in service to Jesus—loving God and doing good to others.

Don’t wait to make a decision as important as eternity. 

You don’t have to be perfect to become a Christian. That’s what Jesus is for. He wants you right now, just as you are. He’ll work on you later on, forming you into the person He wants you to become. 

Pray and ask him into your life, acknowledging him as your Savior and the only true path to God the Father. Works won’t get you into Heaven; only faith in Jesus will. 

And today, you still have that choice. Tomorrow may be too late.

Can You Lose Your Salvation?

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Do you believe in “Once saved, always saved?”

Most people probably come down firmly on one side or the other of this age-old debate.

Either you believe that once you’ve accepted Christ and His salvation, you can never be lost again—and consequently never end up in Hell after you die; or you believe that it’s possible for a Christian to lose their salvation if they fall away from God.

I’ll say up front that this is a complex issue and not one that I’m going to resolve in just a few words here.

Many books have been written on this subject, and yet the issue is still debated fiercely. Nothing I write is going to resolve that.

However, I do believe that there’s a workaround to the question.

The issue in the debate is whether it’s possible for a person who has genuinely accepted Christ to fall away from God.

Since I don’t have an answer to that question, the smart thing seems to be to never fall away.

Accept Christ and His grace every day. Acknowledge you’re a sinner, but do all you can to stay away from sin. Ask God for help overcoming besetting sins, or sins that you continually struggle with.

Renew your commitment to Jesus every day. Walk in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. After all, He is the one who convicts us of our need for Christ. Never give God a reason that He might be inclined to cut you off.

I’m not saying He would or He wouldn’t rescind your salvation if you are a professing Christian, but since the question has been so hotly debated for so long, why take any chances?

Stay far away from anything that might put your eternal security in jeopardy.

This argument is no different than the one evangelists have used with non-believers for over 2000 years. 

It’s like a believer saying, “If I’m right and you’re wrong, you’re in big trouble when you die. However, if you’re right and I’m wrong, then you’ve lost nothing. Therefore, it makes sense to believe in Christ’s saving power while you still can.”

So, following this logic, the best thing would be to assume that there’s a chance you could lose your salvation.

Therefore, keep your hands out of the tiger cage as it were by staying far away from sin.

You’ll be just fine if you do and you’ll have nothing to worry about. While the rest of Christendom argues over this question, you can rest easy, knowing your salvation is intact.

What could be better than that?

Is the Bible Still Valid?

Can the Bible be trusted as a reliable source of wisdom for today’s modern world? 

Society and culture are vastly different from the way they were when the Bible was written. 

People from biblical times could not have imagined the world we live in, with all our modern conveniences and technology—no more than we can imagine with any accuracy what life on this planet will resemble 1000 or 2000 years from now. 

The question is a valid one because the whole Christian faith hinges on an accurate rendering of the Bible and a solid belief in this accuracy. If we don’t have the Bible to rely on, then we really don’t know what truth is. 

We have to be able to answer the question to our satisfaction so we can continue to lean on the Bible as our anchor and truth.

The problem is, if we start to question any part of the Bible as far as its accuracy and truth, then we have to call into question the entire Bible. 

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Simply put, either the Bible is true or it isn’t. It can’t be partially true; we can’t accept sections of the Bible as fact and conclude that other parts of it are false.

Some people will probably say that I’m over simplifying a very complex question. I disagree, however. 

On the contrary, I believe that God intentionally makes some aspects of His kingdom very simple. 

After all, we’re told in the Bible that we must have the faith of a child if we expect to make sense of it all. Jesus says in Matthew 18:3 (CSB),

Unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

To me, this means that we simply must believe. 

Believe what God tells us. Believe that He created us in His image. Believe that Jesus is His Son and that He was crucified for our sins.

No, none of this makes any logical sense. After all, if God created us, who created God? 

At some point, however, we have to stop with the questions and simply rest in faith. God is God and we aren’t. 

He gave us the Scriptures to guide us through life, which as we know can be treacherous. The Bible is meant to give us hope, strength, and wisdom. 

If we can’t trust the Bible in its entirety, we can’t trust God in His entirety, because the Bible is

breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

I chose the English Standard Version for this verse because it renders God’s role in the formation of the scriptures as “breathed,” rather than merely “inspired,” which other versions use. 

The Bible comes literally from the mouth of God and was given to us to help us become the strong, solid Christ-followers He wants us to be. 

We can’t pick and choose what we believe is true in God’s word. Either it’s all true, or it’s all a fallacy. 

I side with the former conclusion, which means I believe that the Bible is as valid today as it was 2000 years ago. 

We can still turn to it to find wisdom and truth, just as our ancestors have for generations. Unlike fashion, the Bible never goes out of style.

What about you? Do you believe the Bible is still valid?

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Simple Faith Will Change Your Destiny

And many believed in him there.

John 10:42

The above verse is so simple that we might tend to read right on past it. It contains a key truth, however.

In this passage we learn that a great number of people became followers of Jesus after He had crossed over the Jordan and remained there for a period of time. These people believed He was their Messiah because of the signs He performed and the words that He spoke.

We don’t have Jesus physically with us today like the people in biblical days did. How then can we get to the point where we also believe? 

The answer lies in the Holy Spirit. He convicts us of our sin nature and lays it on our heart that we need Jesus for our salvation. 

Without the work of the Spirit, we would never reach the point where we feel empty without Jesus. It is the Spirit’s interaction that allows us to see that we need Jesus. Those who have never felt the conviction of the Spirit do not fully understand that their lives are not complete without Jesus.

That’s why I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s work. He is the Teacher and Comforter who prepares our hearts to accept Jesus into our lives. He is who made it possible for all those people to believe in Jesus as described in John 10:42. 

Without a push, a slight nudge from the Spirit to let Jesus into our lives, we’ll never do it on our own.

If you’ve already believed in the Lordship of Jesus and accepted Him as your savior—congratulations! You’re part of the family of God and will live with Him for all eternity.

However, if you’ve never taken time to really think about Jesus and what He did for you by suffering and dying, then there’s no better time than now. 

The Father loves us so much that He sent Jesus to earth in human form so that He could ultimately pay the price of salvation for every man, woman, and child.

You have to accept Him, however. Just like the masses of people who allowed Jesus into their lives while He was physically walking the earth, we have to do the same. 

He’s still alive today. Right now, He is sitting at the right hand of the Father inviting you to let Him be Lord of your life. 

Doing so will put you right with God. It’s the only way. Works won’t set the record straight between you and the Father. Giving money away won’t do it either. 

The only path to eternal salvation is through Jesus. Won’t you invite Him into your life?

9 Verses About God’s Love That Will Lift Your Spirits

Perhaps you’re like many people in today’s hurry-scurry world and you feel completely all alone. If it’s been a while since you really connected with anyone else, you may feel like there’s not a single soul on the planet who cares about you. 

While it could be true that you don’t have anyone else to call a friend, who you can go to for advice or just for a hug, you always have God. He loves you unconditionally, no matter how bad you think you are. He’s always there and is longing for a relationship with you. 

Below are nine of the best verses that detail the depth of God’s love for us, in no particular order:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

This is one of the most, if not the most, famous verses in the entire bible. The reason is because it describes God’s deep love for us, so much so that He was willing to allow His Son to be tortured and killed before resurrecting Him. His punishment paid the price for the sin we all commit every day.

1 John 4:9

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

This verse also details the depth of God’s love for us, explaining that He sacrificed His son so that we might live eternally.

1 John 4:16

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

In this verse, we’re told that God is in fact love Himself. Wherever there is true love, that represents the very essence of God.

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Here we see that Jesus loves us so much that He willingly gave His life so that we might live.

Ephesians 2:4-5

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.

God loves us so much that he gave us new life even when we were mired down in our sin.

Psalm 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

God always acts with compassion because His love is overflowing toward us, His creation.

Psalm 136:26

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

So strong and powerful is God’s love that it will indeed last forever. Nothing you do can stop Him from loving you.

Psalm 36:7

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

God’s love is an ever-present shelter for us during all the trials and tribulations of life.

Romans 5:5

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

God gave us the Holy Spirit so that we could experience the full measure of His love for us.

This is just a starting point, as these verses only scratch the surface of all the verses in the Bible that demonstrate how much God loves us. Whenever you’re feeling down or blue, spend some time meditating on these verses. Then dig deeper and find more passages that speak to your heart about God’s deep, everlasting love for you.

You Can’t Out-Sin God’s Forgiveness

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

As believers in Christ, we’ll never be outside of God’s forgiveness. 

Think about that for a minute…

There’s nothing we can do that God will not forgive us for—so long as we’ve trusted Jesus for our salvation.

That’s the key. Without Jesus, there is no forgiveness. 

Instead, there’s a great gulf between God and us because no one is able to completely keep all tenets of the law that God gave to His people. 

That’s the reason for Jesus. God the Father knew that man doesn’t have the ability to follow the law completely, keeping even the smallest detail without sinning. As we’re told in James 2:10:

For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

It doesn’t matter if we tell a so-called “white lie,” or if we’ve killed someone, guilty is guilty. 

However, the good news is that Jesus’ death and resurrection puts us right with God. God, being eternally just and good, couldn’t go back on the law He created, so He sent Jesus to fulfill the law. 

Through His crucifixion and subsequent rise from the grave, Jesus became the first fruits of all of us who believe in Him. All we have to do is believe in the lordship of Jesus and that He died and rose from the grave to pay for our sins. 

It’s that simple. Our works won’t get us into Heaven. Instead, our faith does. 

So, going back to forgiveness…once we become followers of Jesus, we have God’s complete forgiveness no matter how badly we mess up. All we have to do is repent and confess our sins and we can be confident that we have God’s forgiveness.

How great is that!

So, if you haven’t trusted your eternal destiny to Jesus yet, that’s the first thing you need to do. Your life will never be the same afterward. Take a moment now to invite Jesus into your heart.

Then you can rest easy, knowing that there’s nothing standing between you and fellowship with God.

Of course, as followers of Christ, we should want to avoid sin. However, being human, we will invariably fall short. When we do, thanks to Jesus we can know with confidence that we have God’s forgiveness. 

That should give each of us peace of mind!

Yoke Yourself to Jesus Every Day

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Matt. 11:29

A while back, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, put out a podcast on which he advised his listeners to yoke themselves to Jesus. 

The point of the podcast was simple—to explain what it means to yoke ourselves (it’s not what you think) and to encourage us to do so on a daily basis.

In a nutshell, to yoke ourselves to Jesus means to attach ourselves to him to lighten our load through this life. 

Just as James tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1:2), we can be assured that we will have challenges and struggles in this life.

So, what better way to get through life than by partnering with Jesus?

These words have the power to bring comfort, healing, and peace to even the most troubled soul, of which I am often one.

The reason is because of what a yoke does. Rather than strapping us with more burden— what many people believe—a yoke is designed to lighten the load. Back in biblical times, a farmer would yoke two oxen together to make it easier for each ox to pull the load behind them. 

The yoke evenly distributed the burden of the load between the two oxen, making their work easier and even allowing them to get more work done. The yoke was actually a welcome relief for the animals, and they were able to accomplish more than each one could on its own.

This is how we should look at the command found in Matthew 11:29. The yoke is not meant to put more burden on us, but rather to lighten the load we’re already carrying. 

Jesus is telling us to partner with him, leaning on him daily for renewed strength to make it through the challenges of our often hectic and demanding days. 

No one on this earth is without some sort of burden. However, by allowing Jesus to share our burdens, these burdens will seem lighter and easier to handle.

After all, we’re also told in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

God loves us and wants the best for each of his children. 

It took me a long time to really understand and accept this truth for myself, but I think I’m finally able to do that, at least to some degree. I still have room to grow in this area, but it’s such a welcome relief knowing that God loves me and wants to make my journey through life easier by yoking me with Jesus.

And He wants to do the same for you, friend.

The Essence of the Gospel

OK, here’s your tough question for the day…

What is the true essence of the Gospel? What is it all about anyway?

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Perhaps the Good News is about forgiveness. If we have placed our faith in Christ, then we know that we have forgiveness for our sins. Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 

His death and resurrection atoned for our sin (a fancy way of saying that He paid the price for our sin).

Or, we could say that John 15:12 sums up the Gospel: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Surely, if we don’t have love, then we don’t truly have the Spirit of Christ living in us. 

We are even told in Matthew 22:37-40 that “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So, love is definitely a big part of the Gospel.

But so is salvation. We learn in Romans 10:9 that, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

We have to conclude, therefore, that the Gospel is about salvation.

However, that’s not all. In arguably one of the most famous and often-quoted verses in the Bible, we are told that, “For God so loved the world

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that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Eternal life is a key part of the Good News for sure.

So, what then is the essence of the Gospel?

Simply put, it’s Jesus. He is the “pioneer and perfecter of faith,” as Hebrews 12:2 is rendered in the NIV. The NKJV calls him the “author and finisher of our faith.”

So, yes, the Gospel is about all those other things. However, it is undeniably, unmistakably about Jesus our Savior, the One sent by the Father to make us right in His eyes.

All we have to do is believe

Time to Cross Over

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

John 5:24

Many of you reading this may have seen this passage as the verse of the day in the YouVersion bible app recently. 

I’ll admit that even though I usually read the verse of the day every day, I often skim over it without giving it much thought.

However, there was something about this verse that caught my eye and caused me to reread it several times, even comparing it in different translations. 

It was the phrase “passed from death to life.”

It made me stop and think about its real meaning. If we take the bible literally, this passage tells us that we have actually transformed from dead creatures to live creatures. 

We’ve “passed” as several translations word it. The NIV uses the phrase “crossed over.” Either term implies that there’s no going back. 

We’ve either passed from one phase of existence to another, or we’ve crossed over (as in crossing a river or ravine) and the past is forever behind us. 

The words create a picture of a definite action, or a movement, from one place to another place—like walking through a doorway to which there’s no turning back.

It implies security, like once we believe in Jesus, we have this new life and can never ever lose it. It’s final and permanent. 

And yes, I’m aware there is a great debate over “once saved always saved,” but I’m avoiding that whole discussion for now.

As significant and powerful as the words “passed” or “crossed over” are in this verse, there was something more that struck me.

It’s the phrase “eternal life.”

As Christians, we no longer must face the end of life when our bodies cease to function.

We are fully alive now—and will be forever.

All we have to do is hear God’s word and believe Him, the One who sent Jesus, and we’ll have this eternal life. Again…that’s forever and ever. 

Have you ever really stopped to think about what forever means? And it’s not just “a mighty long time” as Prince sings. 

Forever means there’s no end to our lives.

We can spend 10 years or even 1,000,000 years in God’s presence and that doesn’t even begin to approach what eternity encompasses (although I don’t believe that we’ll have the same concept of time there as we do in our earthly bodies).

I personally cannot truly comprehend all that eternity represents. As humans, I’m not sure any of us can. We’ve never experienced anything that was eternal. 

No matter how long we’ve been alive, we can only measure our existence in terms of decades—and that comes nowhere close to eternity.

And to gain this eternal life, all we have to do is accept God at His word, that He sent His son Jesus (who is fully God) to earth in human form so He could die to pay the price for our sins. 

That’s it. There are no works involved, as some people who call themselves Christians would have you believe. It’s all through faith in God’s saving grace.

What’s more is that God wants each and every one of us to have this life. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

How could anyone turn down this offer? 

If you haven’t made the decision to believe God on His word, do it today…and make today the first day of your new eternal life.

Tithing – God Wants Our Heart, Not Our Money

Admittedly, I’ve had a long, hard struggle with tithing. I’ve always wanted to do it, but most of the time have never felt like I really had the money to actually do so.

Deep down, I believe it’s the right thing to do. But not because it’s one of the 10 commandments (because it’s not), but because in example after example in the Bible, we see where God’s faithful servants always give Him the first part of their income or harvest.

In Genesis 14:20, Abraham did it long before the law was given: “‘And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”

Jesus later reaffirmed the practice in the New Testament: “‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.’”

God even tells us to test Him and see if He won’t come through by honoring our tithe.

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test [emphasis mine], says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts (Mal. 3:10-11).

The underlying issue is not that God wants our money. As everybody who has ever written about the issue of tithing has said, God doesn’t need our money. He owns it all anyway. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).

Everything comes from Him because it was all His to begin with anyway. When we tithe or give our offerings, we’re just giving Him back what was already his.

He even tells us that He is the one who makes it possible for us to have any money to give away. “Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all” (1 Chron. 29:12a).

Then why do we need to tithe? The answer is that God wants our heart. Money is hard to part with. If we show God that we trust Him enough to give Him our money, then He knows that He has our hearts.

Jesus tells us to love God with everything we have. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’” (Matt. 22:37-38).

Jesus also tells us to store our treasures in Heaven because “‘where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’” (Matt 6:21).

The backstory to Malachi 3 where God tells us to test Him is that the Israelites weren’t giving God their tithes, so they weren’t giving Him their whole hearts. They didn’t trust God or revere God enough to give him the first of all their harvest and their livestock.

When God told the Israelites to tithe, he knew that if they did they would be giving their whole selves to Him. That’s what He was trying to accomplish. He didn’t want their money and he doesn’t want our money today. He wants our hearts.

When we give all of ourselves to God, we open ourselves us to receive His blessings. And that includes His peace and freedom from worry. If there’s always that one small part of us that we’re holding out and not giving over to God, He can’t fully bless us; we’ll never fully know His peace.

Tithing may not be the answer to all your problems with stress and worry, but the simple act of giving God back the money that was His to begin with may play a crucial role in your mental health. Doing so shows Him that you trust Him and are putting your life and well-being in His hands.

Try it. Tithe and see what happens. Test God just as He tells us to do in Malachi. You may be surprised with the results.