Wednesday, January 31, 2018

February 1, 2018

"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side." Luke 16:22-23

Not to be morbid but the truth is this will someday be said of you and me, "the time came when ________ died.

"The rich man also died."

After they died they each went somewhere.

Again, that fits with what I have been saying each Sunday of this series, "The vast majority of your life and my life will be lived after we die!"

Just as their life on earth were dramatically different so was their eternal life. Lazarus (whose name means "the one whom God helps") was carried to Abraham's bosom while the rich man went to Hades.

As you might imagine, once this rich man awoke in the torment of Hades (Hell) he was immediately repentant. Unfortunately he was several seconds to late. 

What a sobering thought! How tragic that this man ended up in a horrible hell because he never got around to caring for his soul!

Hell is real!

Hell is eternal and there is not escape.

Hell is a place of eternal torment. Matthew 25:41 says it is a place of "eternal fire". Matthew 25:46 says it is a place of eternal punishment.

Hell is more terrible than we might imagine! There is fire - Matthew 25:41. There is darkness - Matthew 8:12; 22:13. How can it be dark if there is fire? This may refer to the spiritual darkness of being separated from God and condemned to the same place as Satan and all hi demons. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Wow! because Hell is so terrible and the specter of Hell looms threateningly before us it is easy to try and push it aside. To not think about it. To procrastinate in our preparation.

But because it is real and it is avoidable what if we live life from eternity backward? What if we settle the issue of our eternal destination now? If we settle our eternal destination now would it not free us up to live without fear of death and the judgment?

If we can do that and Lazarus proves that we can, why wouldn't we? Why would we waste even one more hour or one more day?

You may be thinking, "Brad, you are just trying to frighten me into making a spiritual decision."

Well, I most certainly like to see you care for your soul and prepare it for eternity! But actually, I am trying to free you from fear by having you settle your eternity!

January 31, 2018

procrastinator is a person who delays or puts things off — like work, chores, or other actions — that should be done in a timely manner. A procrastinator is likely to leave all the Christmas shopping until December 24th.

I hope that doesn't apply to you. I have a friend who may have some of those tendencies.

In case you are wondering, you may be a procrastinator if:

If you have ever procrastinated or if you know someone who has, notice how you don't procrastinate on easy or pleasant things. You only procrastinate with hard, challenging, unpleasant or difficult tasks.

I'll bet you've never said, "I'll wait and have this thick chocolate milk shake tomorrow!"

You probably have said, "I'll pull all my income tax stuff together this weekend."

We can agree (tomorrow) that procrastination is never good but sometimes it is more damaging than others.

Jesus told a story about a time when it was fatal:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

This parable is not an indictment of riches but a cautionary tale about the dangers of becoming preoccupied by them. Having wealth requires managing wealth. Caring for your finances can distract you from caring for your soul which can cost true and eternal riches.

We know this rich man was so caught up in his lavish lifestyle that he never noticed the suffering starving man on his doorstep.

Like many who end up in hell it wasn't an intentional choice but rather neglect or procrastination. He intended to go to church but never got around to it. He had nothing against helping the needy he just never noticed Lazarus outside his front door.

Maybe this is the year to stop procrastinating about dealing with your procrastination. Why not begin today? Why not begin with caring for your soul?

Monday, January 29, 2018

January 30, 2018

I want to share with you a contemporary cultural perspective from one of our Wesleyan leaders, Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, OK.
As the president of one of the dozens of universities in the United States that carry the “Wesleyan” name I have often been asked: “What’s a Wesleyan?” Likewise, hardly a day goes by where I am not asked what seems to be one of the most seminal questions of our time: How should the church respond to our society’s tsunamic shift toward the celebration and acceptance of the broader LGBTQ agenda?
More directly, people want to know: Doesn’t John Wesley’s — and more importantly Christ’s — call for “love” require the Christian community to be more inclusive and conversational, rather than exclusive and confrontational as we engage our culture? As a long-standing and loyal member of John Wesley’s “Methodist” movement, I offer the following responses for consideration:
• Yes, Christians in the Wesleyan tradition elevate love as evidence of God’s grace in our lives. Loving God, our neighbor, and ourselves, however, demands we hate sin. Sin is anathema to love and love is anathema to sin. John Wesley taught over and over again that the walk of holiness: the obedient, “methodical” (thus, Methodist) path of sanctification, is one that condemns sin at every turn.
There is no place in Wesleyan and Methodist teaching — or Christian teaching at large — to have a “conversation” about sin. The message of holiness demands we confess it, not sit around and discuss it.
• John Wesley never watered down scriptural authority and certainly never questioned the Bible’s clear definition of right and wrong. “Oh, give me that book. At any price, give me the book of God. I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”
• Wesley was very clear about what he called “singularity,” i.e. the exclusive and non-negotiable truths of the Gospel. In fact, he made it so clear that he said “singularity” was the difference between heaven and hell: “You must be singular or be damned. The way to hell has nothing singular in it. The way to heaven has singularity all over it. You must be singular or be damned.”
• Yes, Wesley did say, “In the essentials unity in all else charity ” and in doing so he clearly made the “essentials” the priority of the formula. In calling for “charity,” he never intended to diminish the First Thing: the mandate to be unified in love for the Word. In fact, Wesley repeatedly preached that anyone who denied “the essentials” was guilty of compromising the unity of the church and was, therefore, guilty of being “almost Christian.”
• The entire Wesleyan/Methodist movement was one where Wesley challenged the church’s acceptance of sin. Wesley was essentially saying, “You may have orthodoxy but you don’t have orthopraxy. You are not practicing what you preach.” Wesley was condemning the hypocrisy of separating belief from behavior. He was calling for obedience — methodical and disciplined holiness.
He confronted sin. He didn’t have a conversation about it and he certainly didn’t tolerate it. Wesley would be first to say that our sinful inclinations do not and should not define us. He would condemn the dumbing down of the human being to nothing but the sum total of what we are inclined to do; sexually or otherwise.

Wesley would shout from the pulpit: “Our identity is found in Christ, not in our proclivities and passions. Holiness, by definition, means that we rise above such inclinations in obedience to God rather than capitulating to one’s base appetites and instincts. You are the imago Dei, my land, not the imago dog! Now, by God’s grace, act like it!”
• The church only succeeds when we have courage. We must run into the storm and not away from it. We must wave the banner of the Truth of Christ and Truth of Scripture with the confidence that if we win — great, that’s God’s grace — but if we lose, it doesn’t matter because the battle is the Lord’s and we are willing to go down fighting.
How can we do anything less? Selling our soul for the sake of cultural approval dishonors our mission, our message, and our very reason to exist. If we become nothing but pale copies of the secular world, why in the world would anyone want to buy what we are selling?
Anything short of a unified stand for the essentials of our faith will doom any denomination or church or college to the ash heap of history. Compromise will be our demise and, consequently, we will be “thrown out and trampled underfoot” by a culture that laughs at our irrelevancy. We are supposed to preserve culture, not take part in its rot. We are supposed to shine a light on darkness, not have a conversation about it. We are supposed to confront sin, not capitulate to it.
May God help us if we have really come to the point where the church actually thinks our salvation comes from negotiating a compromise with a world that hates our Lord and His Gospel.
There is no “middle way” with Christ. He is the only way.
• Everett Piper, president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is the author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).

January 29, 2018

A recent Reader's Digest has an article entitled "How Letting Go of Grudges Can Improve Your Health." It states that forgiveness is indeed divine, but not necessarily easy. It's also very beneficial to physical and mental health states the article. It quotes Frederic Luskin, Ph.D, author of Forgive for Good (HarperCollins, 2002) as saying "People who forgive show less depression, anger and stress and [show] more hopefulness."

That is one reason that Romans 12:14 admonishes: "Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them."

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) " Police say a 30-year grudge boiled over when a former elementary school teacher littered the driveways of former co-workers and bosses with roofing nails and splattered paint on their garage doors. Thomas R. Haberbush, 72, pleaded guilty last Tuesday to one count each of stalking, criminal mischief and criminal tampering, all misdemeanors. Police said that three former school board members, a retired principal and a retired assistant principal at Caroline Street Elementary School were among the nine victims Haberbush targeted over the past two years. Their car tires were damaged by roofing nails that Haberbush threw in the driveways, police said. "It’s very bizarre to carry around a grudge for nearly 30 years," said Saratoga Springs police investigator John Catone. "At least now there can be closure for all those people he terrorized." Police said Haberbush had been angered after receiving poor work reviews. Saratoga County assistant district attorney David Harper requested that Haberbush undergo a mental health evaluation as part of the plea agreement. He also will be barred from contacting the victims in the future.
-It’s like the old saying, “holding grudges is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

-Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Will you be a grace-giver or a grudge-holder? That is the decision each of us must make. But for those who are followers of Christ, the choice is clear. There is no room in the heart of a Christian or within the fellowship of a church for holding grudges. The healthy thing to do AND the holy thing to do is to be a grace-giver.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

January 28, 2018

Ask God to bless everyone who mistreats you. Ask him to bless them and not to curse them." Romans 12:14

During the Korean war a certain military unit had hired a local boy to cook and clean for them. Being a bunch of jokesters, these guys soon took advantage of the boy’s seeming naiveté’.

· They'd put little water buckets over the door so he’d get soaked when he opened the door

· They’d smear Vaseline on the stove handles so that when he’d turn the stove on in the morning he’d get grease all over his fingers.

· They’d  even nail his shoes to the floor during the night.

Day after day the young Korean took the brunt of their practical jokes without saying anything. There was no blame, no self-pity, no temper tantrums.

Finally the men felt guilty about what they were doing, so they sat down with the boy and said, “Look, we know these pranks aren’t funny for you, and we’re sorry. We’re never going to take advantage of you again.” It seemed too good to be true to the houseboy.

“No more sticky on stove?” he asked.

“No more water on door.”


“No more nail shoes to floor?”

“Nope, never again.”

“Okay” the boy said with a smile, “no more spit in soup.”

We chuckle at this story but let me ask you a serious question, "When you get even with someone, do you actually get even? And does it make you feel better?"

I think you know the answer to that question.

In the Bible, who do you think felt better, Peter who cut off a young man's ear in a valiant but vain effort to protect Jesus. But which one of them felt better in the end, Peter or Jesus, Who touched the young Roman and reattached his severed ear?

If your purpose is to overcome evil with good, how can you justify hurting someone just because they have hurt you? When you respond to evil with more evil, you are overcome with the evil. That disobeys God's command.

What if the next time you are hurt by someone you overcome that pain by showing grace rather than getting even? What if you do what Jesus did - you take the pain and give them the gain? How would that change your relationships? How would that shape your world? What would that do for your heart? More importantly, you would show the love of God in a powerful way! You would be acting on faith not feelings.

Is it time for you to stop spitting in the soup?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

January 27, 2018

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.”  Revelation 20:11-14

In my last post I referenced five Scriptures that talk about judgment and each one of them mention that ultimate judgment will be based on your permanent record!

The Bible talks about Five Judgments and guess what? Each one is factored on permanent records:

1) Judgment of Israel, Daniel 12:1

At the end of the age Israel will be judged for her refusal to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. How can you be saved when you fail to acknowledge the Savior?

This rejection of Christ will represent a significant blot on their permanent record.

2) Judgment of Nations, Joel 3:1-2

Each of the nations of the world will stand before the throne to receive their judgment for their treatment of Israel and their sins against God.

Unfortunately, America is one of those nations ripe for judgment. God help us!

3) Judgment of Angels, Jude 6; Genesis 3:15

Isaiah tells of a cataclysmic event that took place in heaven when Lucifer rebelled against God and implicated one-third of the angels with him. They were all expelled from heaven. Those fallen angels or demons have been feverishly opposing God and God's people ever since.

These are the angels that will be judged and cast down to the Lake of Fire eternally. Good riddance!

4) Judgment of Believers

Those of us who know Christ as Savior and have obediently served Him will be judged according to our works. We will be rewarded on the merit of our permanent record.

5) Judgment of Unbelievers

Finally, those who never knew Jesus as Savior or who once knew Him but then turned away from Him.

The Judge on the throne will be Jesus! Who is more qualified to be the judge than the One Who was judged on the cross for the sins of the world?

So those who say a Holy God would never send anyone to Heaven is right - Jesus will be the One to condemn them to Hell based on their permanent record!

The judgment seat is referred to as The White Throne. White as in pure, holy and radiant! 

The original word used for this judgment seat is "bema" and it refers to the stage or platform where the judges sat to judge the Olympic athletes according to their performance. Those judged as the winners were called up to the "bema" where they received their laurel wreath shaped like a crown. That is a familiar way of explaining the seat of the coming judgment.

Each person will stand before the "bema" to receive 

Three Books of Judgment: 

Each person's judgment will be based on their permanent record as compared against three works.


The first book that will opened during the judgment
will be the Scriptures.  All of us will be judged
based according to how well our lives measured up
with the sacred Word of God!


The second book opened will be the record of
works in our lives following our decision to follow
Christ as Savior. In other words, our permanent record will be displayed for all to see!


The third book opened will be the Book of Life. Those  whose names appear in that Book will be welcomed to Heaven and those who don't will be consigned to Hell.

So judgment will begin with the Word of God so it will be clear what God expected from them so they will be without excuse.

The the personal permanent record of each person will then be opened that those deeds done in the flesh and those works will be compared to the demands of the Word of God.

Judgment literally will "by the book"! So remember,

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Get Your Name On The Permanent Record!

If there is a permanent record - AND THERE IS - you need to make sure your name is in the Book of Life through a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ!

“I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life. I am telling you the truth: the time is coming—the time has already come—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear it will come to life. Just as the Father is himself the source of life, in the same way he has made his Son to be the source of life. And he has given the Son the right to judge, because he is the Son of Man.” John 5:24-27

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to be its judge, but to be its savior.” John 3:16-17

“If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved.” Romans 10:9-10

“Everyone must die once, and after that be judged by God. In the same manner Christ also was offered in sacrifice once to take away the sins of many. He will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are waiting for him.”  Hebrews 9:27-28

“Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.”  Acts 4:12

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”  Romans 8:1-2


Unless your permanent record is anything except perfect before God and man, you are headed for a fiery future without a relationship with Jesus, your Savior and Redeemer!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

January 25, 2018

"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire."  Revelation 20:11-15

What you believe about eternity will have a profound influence on how you live your life today!

Even if you aren't conscious of it, your view of eternity factors in your value system and behavior.

If you are one who believes life ends at death and there is no afterlife you will be motivated to pack in as many sensual experiences as you can ever day. You will be guided by the "eat, drink and be happy for tomorrow we may die" value system. And if this life is all there is, why not!?

Should you believe in some version of universal salvation that, too, will guide your values and priorities. For instance, if you believe that we are all essentially good people and God is a good and loving God Who would never send anyone to hell that will guide your moral code. Or, you may hold the belief that Jesus died on the cross to provide salvation so we are all saved and Heaven is assured. That will influence how you behave. Maybe you are of the belief that Heaven is gained through a merit system and if your good deeds outweigh your misdeeds you will earn you way to Heaven. If that is your belief then it will frame your moral code accordingly.

But if you are a Bible-believing follower of Christ you will understand you are sinful by nature and morally depraved. Not only are you unable to save yourself but you are uninterested in doing so. Until the Holy Spirit of God moves in your spirit to convict you of your sin and call you to Himself, you will remain spiritually separated from God. Until you confess your sinfulness and repent of your sins you will not know Jesus as your Savior. But from the moment you accept Jesus as Savior and enter into a spiritual relationship with God, your values, desires and priorities immediately undergo a radical change! You know that your name is written in Heaven and you have eternal life. Once you begin following Jesus you start living with eternity in mind. You understand that you are accountable to God and that you will have to be judged on your "permanent record". Because of the blood of Jesus and the grace of God, your "permanent record" will not keep you out of Heaven but it will determine your reward once you get there.

Your earthly actions get eternal traction! What you did yesterday, the decision you are making today and what you eventually do tomorrow will be recorded in Heaven!

Today will you order your life with the end in mind? Will you live with eternity's values in view? 

This Is Going On Your Permanent Record!

"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:12-15

This may date me but I remember back in my school days having a teacher remind me about my "permanent record".

It went something like this, "You know, Bradley, (I hated when they call me that) this will go on your permanent record so do your best!"

While it is hard for a kid to get his mind around a permanent record it sounded ominous and it motivated me to do my best.

I don't know if that ever happened to you and I doubt if it still happens. But as I became more familiar with the Bible I came to understand that there actually IS a "permanent record" as revealed in the Revelation of John.

In his vision John is shown two books that will be opened in Heaven before the throne. Everything that every person had done during their earthly life is recorded in one book. Think of it EVERYTHING you have done in your life is in the book. How does that make you feel? Those things you did when no one was looking and you were sure no one knew are all in your permanent record. There could be some awkward moments before that throne on that day.

Twice it says in these verses that what they had done during their life is recorded in that book and each will be judged based on that permanent record.

You can't do anything about what is already recorded in your book but you can, by the grace of God through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit make sure your future record is much more pleasing to God.

So, my teachers were right! They were more right than they even knew! There is a permanent record. That permanent record is in Heaven. What you did yesterday is recorded there. What you have done thus far today is in that book. What you do the rest of the day will be in that book!

How then should you live today in light of your permanent record?

What if you mindfully stopped prior to each decision you will make today and ask yourself, "Do I want this on my permanent record?" If your answer is "no" then don't do it!