Wednesday, October 3, 2018

October 4, 2018

".....teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you....." Matthew 28:20

Like many young boys, I once harbored a vision of becoming a major league baseball player. There was one problem with that vision, I wasn't talented enough to play at that level. I probably didn't have the physical talent to play college ball either - but I did - for four years. And I played a lot. So, I got closer to my dream than my physical abilities warranted.

How was I able to reach a higher level of competition than I probably deserved? Why was I able to compete with more physically gifted athletes and hold my own? 

Was I lucky?

Not at all! I earned every inning that I got to play. I worked very hard, trained and practiced by the hours.

When I started playing baseball at the Little League level I was fortunate to have had a coach who was a major league scout and had played some minor league professional ball. Because he knew the game and had played it well, he was able to teach me the fundamentals of baseball. Because he had been what I was hoping to be, I trusted him and I did everything he taught me to do in the fundamentally correct way he showed me to do it.

I enjoyed a college baseball career for one reason - I played the game exactly the way Dean Ford taught me to play it. Everything that I did was fundamentally correct. And because of that, I performed at a college level with limited physical talent. My college success was fundamentally sound because I did everything exactly as he had told me to do it.

How do we teach someone to obey?

Jesus taught us to obey by being personally obedient to The Father. He modeled it. He demonstrated it to the very point of His death on a cross.

These disciples were very average men who became pivotal players in the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ by being obedient to Jesus. They did "everything He commanded them". Therefore, they became much more effective than they should have been because they did life and ministry just like Jesus told them.

They learned obedience by obeying what God told them to do. And they achieved more with their lives than they would have without obeying Jesus. Living and serving as Jesus had showed them to do it allowed them to change the world.

It wasn't so much that they changed the world but it was the power of Jesus working through their obedience.

So, how do we get others to become obedient followers of Jesus? What do we have to "do" to teach them to obey? Simple! Obey!

God's vision for evangelizing the world included our obedience allowing His power and grace to flow through us!

Embrace the fundamentals of obedient service and play at a much higher level than you ever envisioned!

God Is Not Willing That Any Should Perish...

"And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'" Luke 16:26

The context of Luke 16, like all Scripture teaching is key to understanding. In this chapter Jesus is talking to His disciples about the importance of relationships over riches. Riches mean little if they don't result in rich relationships with God and those you love and live with.

There are those who argue that a "loving God would never send anyone to hell".
At least those people believe in hell. Not everyone does.

The truth is that God never has sent a human being to hell nor will He ever do so. Hell was created for the Devil and his legion of fallen angels. However, those who refuse to receive God's provision for salvation by accepting His Son, Jesus, will have no way of avoiding hell.

Peter tells us clearly that "God is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance".

John wrote that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Any person who winds up in hell will do so against the will of a loving God. But as C. S. Lewis once said, "Every person must decide if they will have faith in God and say, "Thy will be done." Any person who refuses to surrender to God's will and trust Him for salvation will come to the end of his days and at his last breath hear Jesus to him, "You did not want my will to be done so your will be done".

So, if God honors that man's will to refuse salvation through Christ and that refusal causes him to miss heaven, whose fault is it for ending up in hell? Surely it is not Christ's fault."

When you distill it down, life is about relationships

Jesus commanded you to "love God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all you mind." and then He added, "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Should you refuse to obey God in our relationships and live selfishly, when you come to end of your days, your eternity will be spent separated from God and completely alone. Hell is a horrible place of fire, and torment and darkness and pure evil. But the worst part of Hell is the fact that you will be cut off from all relationships. You will find yourself completely alone - eternally separated from God and isolated from other people forever! If you don't cherish the sacred and special relationships in life you will lose them for eternity! Love the God who created you, the Jesus Who died for you and the people God gave you to share life with.