Remember how, as a child, you talked to God? Remember your innocence. Remember also that when you felt guilty, you humbly asked Him to forgive you. What happened to that childlike faith? The good news is that you can recover it. In fact, this is precisely the way God wants you to live before Him.
Don’t think that such behaviors are beneath you now. Don’t think that you’ve outgrown them. This sort of behavior is precisely what will restore you to God and bring back the sense of peace and well-being that has otherwise eluded you for so long.
Everything you needed to know about God, you learned when you were five years old. Return to those practices. Return to that devotion. Return to that vulnerability before Him. Return to that tender heart you had before God – that heart that wanted to do the right thing.
Don’t pray to God and live before Him as a grown-up. Do so as a five-year-old. In addition to putting you right with God, this will make you behave more maturely with other people.
What is it like to be God? We’d have no way of knowing except that He has given us a detailed picture of it.
The detailed picture is the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The way we treated Jesus is the way we treat God. That is, God quietly goes about doing good things for people. Nevertheless, He experiences complete rejection by the very people whom He serves. With Jesus this happened once. With God, it happens continuously. It’s the way it was in the garden of Eden. It’s the way it is now. And it’s the way it’s been in between. Dwelling on this gives us a greater appreciation for the patience and forbearance of God.
The reason God could predict so accurately through the Scriptures how Jesus would be treated once He was born was that it was God’s constant experience. He knew that putting on flesh and living as a human being would not alter the treatment He was receiving if He acted in the same spirit. Of course, He had to act in the same spirit – He couldn’t help Himself. It’s His nature to love and turn the other cheek.
No one could convince us that we were treating God shabbily. He had to don human identity for us to prove to ourselves that we actually treat God with contempt most of the time. Do you say that you would never reject God if He walked into your home? He’s in your home now – how are you treating Him?
Therefore, the next time you think about the suffering of Jesus recognize that what He experienced in one human lifetime, He has been experiencing for all time. He who turned the other cheek on earth, turns it from heaven as well. He always has. He always will.
What sort of lives then do we owe Him in response to His limitless love?
Because of what Jesus Christ did long before any of us were born, we are all children of God. We were conceived and born into this world as children of God. It was not a decision we made. Rather, it was a decision that He made, and from which we benefit.
People expend a lot of energy in life uselessly trying to achieve this status with God. or persuade others of this status. Just as you did not achieve it, neither can it be taken away from you.
Neither can you take this status away from any other human being. All human beings are legitimate children of God.
What distinguishes us from others in the sight of God, therefore, is not our status, but rather our obedience. How obedient are you being…today?
Obedience is such a variable. First of all, obedience is always varying among the children of God. We can watch the news and figure we’re being more obedient than most people. But only God can judge individual behaviors so we’re wasting our time in that exercise. Even in the one life you live, obedience can vary. Just because we were obedient to God yesterday does not mean we are today. God judges according to the degree of knowledge we have of His will. For this reason, He judges us as adults more strictly than He did when we were children. The longer we live, the more clear our sense of right and wrong.
Therefore, as you look to God today, revel in your glorious status as His child. However, be ready for His reproof with regard to your obedience. He is patient with us. Just because we repented of one bad habit last week doesn’t mean He won’t this week bring to our minds another bad habit we should forsake. This could go on a long time and we should have the patience for it because it’s all for our good. The more frequently we turn to Him, the more rapidly we can be improved.
It will do you no good to move from the mosque, synagogue, or temple to church. At best, all such groups are gatherings of well-intentioned people who are confused about what God really expects from them. At worst, they are dens of hypocrisy, fomenting distrust of anyone not in the group.
What each one of us needs is an active relationship with God – not a relationship with a group who says they have special status with God. We human beings are all children of God - how much more status do we need?
How do you relate to God? Just turn to Him in your heart. He’s the same God you’ve known all your life and who has known you for all your life. He’s the God who’s helped you in difficult times. He’s the God who’s shown you the right way to live. He’s the God you’ve ignored to your own peril. He’s the God who makes all of the laws of physics operate with precision. He’s the God who keeps you planted on the earth even though it’s a spinning, traveling sphere. His name is Jesus and He’s the One described in the Old and New Testaments, but He will answer to any name by which He’s called as long as it’s called in sincerity. There is only one God. If you’re praying to the Supreme Being, He’ll receive it.
If you do go to a mosque, synagogue, temple, or church, speak truth to one another. It’s not the fellowship that spiritually edifies you – it’s the speaking of, and listening to, truth that does.
Why do we think that professing our faith does any good with God?
You have been told that if you tell others, “I am a Christian,” or “I have been born again,” that God will be pleased. You have also been told that the there is rejoicing in heaven when such declarations are made. You have even been told that making these professions of faith either enter you into the family of God or are proof that you have entered into the family of God. None of these things are true.
Because Jesus Christ redeemed the entire human race, you’ve been in the family of God since the moment you were conceived. As for rejoicing in heaven, that happens as you repent from sin and do what is right. Same goes for God being pleased.
If you are being a bad parent, professing Christianity will make no difference. However, if you begin to treat your children like you would want to be treated if your roles were reversed, then the angels will rejoice and God will be pleased.
God wants righteousness from us – not religion.
What kind of substitute is churchgoing – or any form of religion – for righteousness?
Righteousness means doing the right thing. Religion means expressing a code of conduct in the context of a social grouping. If a man is being a poor husband, which will improve the situation: doing the right thing or expressing a code of conduct in the context of a social grouping? Poor husbands don’t need a new code of conduct; they need to live up to the one they vowed when they got married.
It is a strange thing to hear someone say, “I’ve got to get right with God so I’m going to church.” God lives in the same home as the deficient husband. If the husband truly wants to do better, he will go to God in that house right then, ask for forgiveness, and start to be a better husband…right then.
God is not pleased by churchgoing; He’s pleased by righteous living. Do what is right and you will know His approval.
Being a friend of God – the very idea staggers the human imagination. That God would condescend to be our friend…and not even consider it condescension! What an incredible antidote for a lonely world.
Any good friendship is, of course, built on common interests. Fortunately, God has made clear what His interests are. His passion is righteousness – that is, doing the right things in life. Avoiding temptation, turning away from evil of every kind. Keeping our hearts completely pure. This is why His commandments are so important. They embody these ideas. Therefore, keeping His commandments brings us into alignment with God’s interests. And He’s made clear that if we live this way, He will provide everything else we need. Jesus demonstrated this in His earthly life on many occasions, including one where He fed a crowd of five thousand people having started out with not even enough servings to feed His twelve disciples.
Take advantage of the amazing opportunity God is granting to each of us – to be His friend and enjoy His company. If you take this on, you will find Him speaking to your heart as if you were face to face – just the way any two good friends talk. It’s a relationship that will transform your life.
It would be funny if it were not sad to see so many people today deny the existence of truth. They’ll either say truth is relative, meaning it can vary from person to person. Or they’ll shrug as if truth is an antiquated concept, completely out of place in modern times. Yet truth is something they are bumping into all day long, only they call it by another name: reality. It’s like watching someone say they don’t believe in walls while they are covered in bruises from continually bumping into these walls.
Truth is reality. Truth is the way things are. I’ve heard atheistic evolutionists completely dismiss the idea that God exists or that He created and controls the universe, and in the same speech say that they prefer to put their faith in the laws of physics. Who do they think created and enforces these laws? They embrace edicts of the king but eschew the opportunity to be friends with Him. Another way to say it is that they embrace His lower laws and ignore His higher ones. Yet another way to say it is that they’re willing to avoid bumping into some walls, but not all of them.
Jesus Christ puts a face on truth. He is the one who decided what the laws of physics would be and makes sure that no one repeals them. He does this out of love, for only in this way can we have a rational and ordered universe in which to live. How frightful life would be – just to take one example - if we never knew if, where, or when we were going to see the sun next!
A person can deny the existence of truth until he is blue in the face, but truth is reality and he is encountering that every moment of his life. Even if blindly.
When you hear the name Jesus Christ you are hearing a name and a title, not a first and last name. His name is Jesus. This is the name His earthly parents gave Him when He was born. They did not think of this name themselves; it had been provided by an angel.
Christ, on the other hand, is not a personal name or a surname, but rather a title. In the Old Testament this title was rendered as “Messiah.” In the New Testament it is rendered as Christ. The meaning is the same. The difference is due to the fact that Hebrew was the original language of the Old Testament while Greek is the language of the New Testament. Both words have the same meaning: “Anointed.”
We are used to thinking of a king as being “crowned,” but in ancient Israel they were anointed with oil. The oil was of practical benefit in the climate of Israel, but the symbolism was of God’s presence through His Holy Spirit which would guide the king in all his decisions.
Therefore, whether you hear the term Christ or Messiah you should think “king.” The next concept this should bring to your mind, at least as far as your response is concerned, is “obedience.” Jesus was sent to us not merely to be acknowledged and admired, as appropriate and useful as those responses are. He was also sent to be obeyed. If you think of or say His title without thinking of His right to your obedience, you have missed the point of the title.
Do you know what He wants you to do? Ask Him and He will tell you in your heart. Here’s a starting point: He will want you to love Him above all, and your neighbor as yourself.
Your deceased loved ones are in heaven – all of them. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, death has ceased to be descent into the sleep of a netherworld and is now an ascent into heaven.
What is like life for them in heaven? They are like angels, being neither male nor female, and live as ageless beings, not needing marriage as a way to extend the resurrected human race. They are doing just fine. You are the only one in any peril, and that will last only as long as you are on earth.
Live the rest of your time on earth in the awareness of God and in gratitude for the eternal life He has granted to you and to all those you love. Express your gratitude with a repentant heart and live each day sacrificing your desires for the needs of others. Never shed another tear for your loved ones - only rejoice that your hope of reunion is sure.
For a longer post on this subject, see Everyone Is Going to Heaven . For those who would like a fuller explanation from the Bible that everyone is going to heaven, I am posting online a book: The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven.