My Country

Let me explain my claim to be a patriot. My loyalty to the United States is not contingent on it being the greatest nation on earth.  Even if it is, that may change.  My loyalty is not contingent on a history of righteousness.  Our treatment of “native Americans” and others whose property we desired, our status as leaders in the dissemination of pornography, and our market for harmful drugs are among the facts making that claim shaky.  My loyalty is not contingent upon my agreement with our founding values.  I am not convinced oppression by the British justified abandoning Biblically prescribed submission to “the authorities that exist.”

There is much about the United States, historically and currently, that is noble.  But the most important reason for my patriotism, for my sense of responsibility to the United States is simply because it is my home.  My loyalty and sense of responsibility to my family is not dependent upon its members being the greatest, most noble, or most anything.  The bottom line is they are my family.  And the United States is my country.

This Is For You

Years ago I was teaching some boys in a Bible class. I wanted to illustrate that eternal life, new quality of life, forgiveness – the whole salvation package is received by a decision of faith. It is a gift offered to anyone willing to turn from his wrongdoing and trust Jesus to save him.

I handed a boy a penny. “Here, this is for you.” He reached out and took it. I took off my watch. “Here, this is for you.” Happily for me and my illustration he just sat there.

What made the difference in his responses? I took it to be Faith. He believed I would give a penny; he didn’t believe I’d give him my watch.

Salvation is a gift. If you decide to turn from wrong (sin) and trust Jesus Christ to be your savior (in other words: to save you) from the wrath and judgment of God it’s like reaching out and taking an offered gift. Through that act of faith, the gift becomes yours.

My second offer was a gimmick. I don’t know what I would have done if he had reached for the watch. But God’s offer is genuine. God the Son became a man, died, and rose again in order to provide this opportunity.

The Bible says “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

What If I Become a Christian?

What kind of life can one expect if he becomes a Christian? Answer: A life of righteousness, peace, joy, and trouble. All four.

In the Bible, life in the kingdom of God (speaking of the current, spiritual kingdom composed of all who voluntarily submit themselves to Jesus as king and savior) is described as “righteousness and peace and joy ….” Other parts of the Bible explain that trouble is also part of a Christian life. Some of that trouble is just the plight common to everyone living in a fallen world: disease, natural disaster, abuse from other sinners, and personal errors. Beyond that, there is trouble purposely caused by people who resent Christians (II Timothy 3:12).

What then is the motivation for becoming a Christian, if trouble is part of the package? Why not seek peace and joy on another path? A few reasons occur to me. One is forgiveness.

Jesus said, “…whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them ….” Matthew 7:12 How often have you broken that law? That makes you a lawbreaker. How often have you lied? That makes you a liar. Catch the reality? ” …all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire ….” Revelation 21:8 You need forgiveness.

Guilt is disturbing. Guilt is a warning system — warning because sin (wrongdoing) commonly causes extra trouble and sadness (Proverbs 13:15). Guilt warns of Hell. Unforgiven sinners are sent to Hell. Seek forgiveness. Only the holy Creator is in a position to offer the forgiveness we need.

Men have a few alternate strategies (alternate to God) for dealing with guilt. Such as
(1) “Compared to other people I’m pretty good.” But God doesn’t grade on a curve. By His standard, you fall short. Having a lot of company in Hell won’t relieve the pain. (2) “I’ve tried my best; surely that’s sufficient to satisfy God.” ” …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” Romans 3:23 ” …if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Galatians 2: 21 (3) “I’m, at the core, in my own way, spiritual.” Catch the sarcasm in God’s response. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble.” James 2:19
(4) “Evolution shows that we are basically animals, the result of non-rational chance. So there’s no basis for permanent definitions of good and evil; ultimately morality is just popular preferences.” If someone invades your houses, steals your valuables, kidnaps a family member, and then is apprehended; will you stick to the idea that good and evil are merely preferences? Surely you wouldn’t expect someone to go to jail for having a different preferred morality? My guess is that in your heart you believe in right and wrong, which stems from an Almighty Judge.

Truth is, your guilt is well founded. You need forgiveness from the Almighty Judge. The good news is that the Almighty Judge loves people. He designed a way for justice to be satisfied. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified, buried, and rose again as the means whereby people like you and me can be forgiven. If you will turn from your wrongdoing (the Bible term is “repent”), and trust Jesus Christ to save you from God’s condemnation, He will.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:8

Now back to where we started. The same One who tells the truth about trouble can be trusted when He offers “righteousness and peace and joy:” all part of the kingdom of God which lasts forever. Romans 14: 17

How does a person become a Christian?

Realize that I, by nature, am not acceptable to God because I violate what is morally right – because I fail to meet God’s requirement for righteousness.  Romans 3:23

Realize that by myself I cannot achieve acceptance by God, rather I am separated from God and destined for His wrath.  Romans 3:23, John 3:36

Believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again to save us from separation from God. Romans 5:8

Make a decision –

To turn from wrongdoing to living God’s way (i.e. “repent” – which refers to our intention) Luke 13:3, Luke 24:47

To trust God to save me, freely – as a gift; i.e. trust (believe in) Jesus Christ as my personal savior. Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:36

If you become a Christian, identify yourself as one by being baptized.  Find a church where people are faithful to the Bible and get involved.

Children Should Know

God is powerful, more powerful than anyone else, more powerful than everyone else put together. God made people. The sky is beautiful because God made it that way. Trees and flowers are nice because God made them that way. Animals are fun to watch because God made them that way. Food tastes good because of God. Families were God’s idea. God loves people.

Everyone should obey God. Whatever God requires is right. Disobeying God causes trouble, sadness, and punishment from God.

Because we do bad things and sometimes have bad attitudes, we deserve terrible punishment. Everyone who ignores God will get that punishment. But because God loves people there is a way to be saved from God’s anger.

Jesus Christ is God’s son. He is God but He is also a man. He didn’t deserve to be mistreated and killed, but God was willing for Him to suffer for us. After He suffered and died, He came alive. He’s alive now.

Because Jesus died and became alive God offers you a gift. The gift includes God forgiving all your wrongdoing, treating you as His child, and letting you live with Him forever. This gift is for you if you want to turn away from being bad and receive the gift by simply trusting God to give it to you. Trusting – that’s also called “faith.” Another way to say it is “believe.”

Do you want to obey God? Will you trust God to forgive you?

We can read about God and His thoughts in God’s book, the Bible. Some sections of the Bible that describe God’s gift are John 3:16, Romans 6:23, and Ephesians 2: 8-9

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Scripture taken from the New King James Version Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Speaking Our Heart Language

My friend was born in Indiana. He met his wife while teaching in Brazil. His native language is English; hers is Portuguese.

One day I mentioned a disagreement between my wife and I. So he mentioned a disagreement recently discussed by him and his wife. Since I knew they purposely maintained the use of both languages in their household, I playfully asked in which language the “discussion” had occurred.

He explained, “She was speaking in English, to be sure I’d understand. I was speaking in Portuguese, to be sure she’d understand.”

God has communicated to mankind in various ways. His creation reveals truth. The prophets added revelation. But the ultimate communication from God to man was when God, the Son became man.

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….” John1:14a

“God …hath …spoken unto us by his Son….” Hebrews 1:1-2

“Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God … took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men ….” Phi. 2:5-7