Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Do You Have Room In Your Heart for Jesus?

Is There Room in Your Heart for Jesus?

Room in Your Heart is More Important than Room at the Inn
by Barbara Henderson

His name was Finbar. He was called Finny by his friends; Finn by his father; and always Finbar by his mother. Finny was a doctor. One day Finny volunteered for a dangerous mission to take and administer a vaccine to a plague ridden country. The country was also barbaric in their treatment of strangers, and without all modern conveniences.

Finbar’s mother carefully studied the maps of the country and located the most affluent area. She suggested that Finbar go directly to that area. There he would be able to find the finest accommodations available and the most civilized people in that country.

Finn’s father studied the maps of the country as well. He suggested that Finn go directly to an area where he would have the best chance at a hasty retreat should he not be received well by the locals.

Finny told his parents that personal comfort and safety were not his priority. He was going to take the desperately needed vaccine. Besides, the country was so poor and primitive that it really didn’t make a nickel’s worth of difference where he went in regards to personal safety and comfort. Finn chose to go to an area that had been hit the hardest by the plague. He said at least the people there knew they were sick, or in immediate danger of becoming sick. The people in other areas were still deciding if there even was a plague at all. They definitely would not be interested in a vaccine if they weren’t even sure there was an epidemic. Besides, he wasn’t going to live there permanently. He was just going to be there long enough to get his job done.

Do you sometimes wonder why Jesus chose to be born in to such a poor family? A few reasons are:
He went where the people were going to be most receptive to the way of salvation He brought. At least the poor knew they were poor. They knew they were looking for a way to make their lives better. Jesus went where it would do the most good.
And, what difference would have made to Him to have been born in a palace? He gave up heaven to dwell among men. Compared to His home in heaven, it didn’t make a nickel’s worth of difference if He were born into a very poor family or a very wealthy family. On a scale of one to a million, the poorest earthly families were a one, and the richest earthly families were a two.
Also, Jesus was not interested in securing a place in this world. He didn’t care if there was no room for them in the inn. His interest was/is in the heart of the individual. He doesn’t want room in any earthly establishment. He is interested in room in your heart. Every individual has the same choice. Is there room in your heart for Jesus? That is the room He wants, and you have the opportunity to give Him that room. He said, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.’ Revelation 3:20

Do you sometimes wonder why Mary laid Him in a manger?
Think about it. She was a very young mother. She was really pregnant, and she had just made a really long trip riding on a donkey. The Bible doesn’t tell us of anyone other than Joseph there to assist at the birth. Joseph was there, but he had just completed the same exhausting journey that Mary had. I think the precious baby was laid in a manger because His parents were simply too tired to hold onto Him. They probably laid Him in the manger and fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Also, there was the worship factor. When the shepherds came to worship Him, they didn’t worship the mother and Child. They worshiped Jesus alone. The Shepherds had just heard a message from an angel. They had just seen and heard a multitude of heavenly host singing praises to God. It is highly likely that they hardly noticed the mother at all.

Do you wonder why the magi brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
I have heard sermons on this many times.
Most agree that Gold was because He was a king. It also stands for purity
Frankincense was because He was a priest.
Myrrh was used as for embalming the dead. It was telling them He would die.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what Mary and Joseph did with the gifts. Possibly they sold them items because they needed the money to live. My guess would be that Mary sold the Myrrh first.
By the way, we think of three magi because of the three gifts, but there could have been more or less. In fact, I think there were more than three. Magi were important people. They probably traveled with all sorts of servants and body guards. Think about it. The magi were ‘kingmakers’. They predicted who would be a king. They were both religious and political in nature. It is much harder to imagine they traveled alone than to suppose they traveled with all the people and things that go along when dignitaries travel. The magi were very powerful to say the least, but they did not let their personal power or influence stop them from humbling themselves before the Lord. They made room in their hearts for Jesus. Wise men still do the same thing today.

It would be a good idea for all Christians to take a look at their hearts today. A Christian has made room in their heart for the Lord. Their eternal destiny is sealed. However, the heart may still be filled with garbage that needs to be swept out. Sins and hurts from the old life still have to be dealt with. As the Christian sweeps out sin, he has to take time to fill up the empty space with the things of Christ, or the evil will come back even worse than before. Look at this fictional example.

Charity is a nice young lady from a nice family. She works in the church with a sincere heart. She loves to sing, and may be a bit prideful about her lovely singing voice. One year she doesn’t get the parts she wants in the Christmas program. She thinks the solos were given to someone with an inferior voice just because of who that person was related to in the church. Charity decides to forgive the matter and just do a good job with the parts she has. That was a good choice on her part, but Charity didn’t go far enough in her forgiveness of the matter. She swept out her hurt and anger at the perceived wrong, but she didn’t fill up the empty space with the things of Christ. The little hurt gradually became a bigger hurt. By the next year Charity was seven times angrier about the matter than she had been the year before. She forgave it again, but still didn’t follow through. She swept the anger out of her heart, which was much more anger than the previous year; but she still didn’t fill up the empty space with the things of Christ. So it went on for several years until Charity’s entire attitude was changed from one of cheerful helpfulness to one of angry bitterness. That is how the devil works. He doesn’t need a big deal in anyone’s life to change their lives from a joyful life to a bitter life.

Are you brave enough to look in your heart and see just how much room you have for Jesus? Yes, He is in the heart of the believer, but is He living in very cramped conditions? Is your heart junked up with hurt feelings, bitterness, and secret sins? Today is the day to sweep these things out of your heart. And today is the day to begin filling the empty space with the good things of Christ.

That brings us to ‘charitable love’. That is the beginning of the good things of Christ with which we should fill our hearts. God’s love for us is charitable love. It is undeserved and unearned. I find it is much easier to accept charitable love than to give it. Thankfully, God’s charitable love for us is without end. We can never use it up. In fact, God enables us to love others like He loves us. I am positive that God will enable you to have charitable love for others because He tells us to do just that in John 13:34-35 which says, ‘A new commandment I give unto you That ye love one another; as I have loved you that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’

So, we are commanded to love others as Christ loved us. Although that may seem impossible when you think of some people in particular, it is possible through Jesus Christ. He would not command us to do something we cannot do with His help. We are capable of such charitable love through Jesus Christ. The more room in your heart you make for Jesus, the more you will be able to carry out this commandment.

Make room in your heart for Jesus – be saved.
Make more room in your heart for Jesus – sweep out the old sins and the old ways and fill the clean space with charitable love.
The one who will be blessed the most will be you.

God bless you each one.

Barbara

Monday, October 13, 2014

Which Heaven are You Talking About?



Identifying Heaven
Barbara Henderson

I’m not sure we could count all the  books out right now attempting to prove heaven is real through writing about personal experiences relating to seeing or visiting heaven through near death experiences.  There is something of a most disturbing nature that all these things have in common.  They just see a place they assume is ‘heaven’.  Maybe they see relatives.  Maybe they see something they call Jesus.  Maybe it’s seems like a wonderful place.  They just assume it is the heaven of God Almighty and Jesus Christ.  There is nothing on which to base their assumption except their own personal experience.  There is no way to prove anything.  There is nothing Biblical to make us think God allows some people to see heaven so they can come back and give some sort of garbled description that somehow ‘proves’ heaven is real.

However, in my opinion, the absolute best case to bring doubt into their ‘experience’ is that they do not come back shouting, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’  They are so busy proving heaven is real they don’t have time to tell others how to be sure they are going to heaven.  It is all feel good gobble-de-gook. It leads people with the impression that heaven is real and that is where people go when they die.  They never tell people how to be sure they are going to heaven.  It basically trivializes the reality of two eternal destinations. The message seems to be, ‘Yippee! Heaven is Real!  I went there, so you must get to go there too.’  And foolish people will accept this as ‘proof’ of heaven above the proof we have in the written word of God.  I think this is common because while people want to believe in heaven, they do not want to surrender to God’s written instructions on exactly how to get into heaven.  They do not want to admit there is a serious consequence in rejecting God’s plan to enter into heaven through Jesus Christ.

The definite truth is that the heaven of God Almighty spoken of in the Bible is for real.  It is real whether you have a near death experience and ‘see it’, or not.  I can promise you this entirely on the word of God.  God lives there.  He has a great throne.  It is a place beyond our comprehension regarding how wonderful it really is.  1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, ‘But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’  Imagine the most wonderful things you can possibly think up and you still won’t have any idea of the wonders of heaven.  The best you can come up with is to consider what is in little children that is in heaven because Jesus said ‘such is the kingdom of heaven’.  That doesn’t tell us much about the material things of heaven, but it does tell us about the spiritual things.  In little children you have unconditional love, joy, forgiveness, an ability to enjoy the moment, curiosity, and many other things.  If you want to think on a verse think on that one.  (Matthew 19:14)
There are many false paths to heaven.  These paths all lead to a place that calls itself heaven, but is really the home of the Destroyer, that is to say Satan who is the chief liar of all creation. Just because someone saw a light at the end of a tunnel does not mean they saw anything to do with heaven.  Just because someone thinks they died and saw great grampaw and aunt Lucy does not mean they saw heaven.  No matter what actually happened to these people, it is all unnecessary to validate heaven.  It is totally irrelevant regarding the privilege of anyone actually going to heaven.  If these experiences what would they have to do with anyone actually going there?  Seeing a place does not mean anyone is actually going there.  I have seen pictures of Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and Scotland.  That doesn’t mean I am going there does it?  To go to heaven requires an advanced reservation that is made through Jesus Christ alone.
Let us identify the real heaven which is the heaven spoken of in the Bible.  To get to this heaven, which is the real heaven, we go to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.  You can have apocalyptic visions, angelic visitations, and books full of un-explainable experiences, and still be bound for hell.  A mental picture of a place someone calls ‘heaven’ is not going to get you through the pearly gates. 

We know that a mental picture of a place called heaven is not going to get you into heaven.  So, what does get you into heaven?

Jesus Christ is positively the only way you are going to get into the real heaven.  All these other destinations called ‘heaven’ are imposters.  They are really all the same place.  They present false information as reality, but the reality is they are dreadful places.  They are actually one dreadful place.  It is hell.

To get to heaven through Jesus Christ requires that you simply believe Him.  When Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the father but by me,’ that is exactly what He means.  If someone is promising heaven any other way, they are promising a different ‘heaven’ than the one in which Jesus Christ lives. 

Often, people are offended that Jesus claims to be the only way into heaven.  This is ridiculous considering what Jesus’ ‘one way’ includes.

First, the offer is made to everyone both great and small, rich or poor, skin color, family connections or lack of, and every other variation in the human race.  No one is left out.  You personally are invited into heaven through Jesus Christ.  

Second, there is room for everyone.  There is no over-crowding.  There is no waiting line. 

Third, it is a first class invitation.  Those who RSVP will enter heaven through the front gates where they will be welcomed by God the Father.  They are adopted by God Himself and made joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  So what is the problem?  Do people want an invitation to enter through the back gate and be kitchen help for eternity?  There isn’t a better invitation than God has already given to every single individual. 

What becomes of those who would rather ‘wing it on their own’ than obey God regarding their entrance into heaven?  To be brutally honest and truthful, they go to hell. Hell is the home of the destroyer, that old dragon, Satan himself.  The Bible tells us a great deal about hell. 

Hell is a place of no rest.  Never.  People in hell are always weary, but unable to rest.
Rev.14:11 

Hell is a place of darkness and a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Matthew 22:13. 

Hell is a place of everlasting destruction.  11 Thessalonians 1:9 
Today if something is destroyed in a fire or natural disaster people set out to rebuild.  In hell there will be eternal destruction.  There will not be any rebuilding of anything.

In hell there is no satisfaction.  There is not even the satisfaction of a simple drink of water for the thirsty.  Luke 16:20  tells the story of the rich man who died unrepentant.  He went to hell. Yet he remembered his previous life.  He knew he used to be a rich man with servants and all his physical and material needs met lavishly.  He remembered, yet there wasn’t even water for him to drink in hell.

Hell is much worse than all this.  Just as we can’t comprehend the joy and wonder of heaven, we can’t comprehend the utter eternal devastation of hell.

Setting aside the differences in heaven and hell, the difference in the places the world calls heaven, the idea that everyone goes to heaven, the idea that idea that hell is temporary, let’s look at the reason people reject Jesus Christ.  The ultimate reason people reject the way of salvation outlined in the Bible is simply they do not want to change their way of living to suit God.  They would rather live with any delusion that tells them they will get into heaven anyway.  On the word of God they will not enter the heaven of Jesus Christ except through Jesus.  There is one mediator between God and man – and that is Jesus Christ alone.

The decision must be made once in this life.  There is no second chance.  It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment.  Period. There are false ways that allow for second chances through reincarnation. There are false ways that allow for escape from hell eventually.  That little ‘loop hole’ that allows for escape from hell, no matter how bad the torment, does take away from the idea of eternal torment in a place separated from God and everything that is good and right. 

Read the Bible.  The truth has a power all its own.  If you want to learn about the real heaven and the real God go to the Bible.  Don’t be the person who thought he was going to Paris, France, and wound up in Paris, Texas.  Winding up in hell will be so far worse than that that there is no real comparison. 

Judgment day is coming.  Are you ready?  Are you ready for that day to come?

Are You Ready

1. There’s a great day coming, a great day coming;
There’s a great day coming by and by,
When the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left,
Are you ready for that day to come?

Refrain
Are you ready? Are you ready?
Are you ready for the judgment day?
Are you ready? Are you ready?
For the judgment day?

2. There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming;
There’s a bright day coming by and by.
But its brightness shall only come to them that love the Lord.
Are you ready for that day to come? [Refrain]

3. There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming;
There’s a sad day coming by and by,
When the sinner shall hear his doom: Depart, I know you not!
Are you ready for that day to come? [Refrain]

Source:
The Cyber Hymnal #6578

Monday, September 29, 2014

Should Christians Gamble?




Gambling for Fun
Barbara Henderson

Mortimer and his wife Carlotta were at a good place in their lives. They owned a very successful manufacturing business filled with contented employees who considered themselves blessed to have such generous management. Well, they didn’t exactly own the business. They still ran the business, but they had actually sold or partially ‘gave’ the business to the employees.  The employees bought them out a price much less than the company was worth. It was written into the selling contract that they could control the business until they were 95 or dead.  Not that they actually planed to run the business that long, but it seemed like a good idea to write it into the contract just in case they wanted to.  Mortimer and Carlotta actually had plans that did not include running a business.  They wanted to travel and see the world. They were never blessed with children, so they were not worrying about leaving an inheritance for their children. The people who had helped them build up the business now owned the majority of stock in the business.. They still had a very fine house on some acreage, but they planned to leave that to the church. 

Mortimer and Carlotta had been members of the same church ever since they got married more than 40 years ago. Mortimer was a deacon, and Carlotta was on every committee in the entire church. They loved the church, gave generously to charities, and were good Christian examples on almost everything. Although they enjoyed their life they were sincerely looking forward to eternity in heaven. They took their relationship with Jesus Christ seriously. That meant once they realized a sin was in their life they repented and turned from it.

They did have one small vice they considered harmless. They liked to gamble. They were both very disciplined people, so gambling for them meant taking a set amount of money, spending that much money, going to dinner, and going home in time to get a good night’s rest because they always went to church on Sunday. (There gambling night was Saturday) Mortimer and Carlotta considered the money they spent gambling as miscellaneous funds. It was a small amount of money considering their income and their net-worth.  They had been gambling for about 10 years, and they had never increased the amount of money they spent. The money spent on gambling had no effect on any part of their lives. They could’ve spent more had they gone to an expensive theater production and restaurant. For all those years they had never thought about gambling as being a sin. They enjoyed it.  They counted it as luck on the nights they won.  On the nights they lost ‘luck’ was not with them, but they had a good time anyway.

Then one day a missionary came to their church. He spoke of exploitation of the poor in the country where he worked. Goods and services were not available to the poor without paying extra money and higher rates of interest.  Even worse the missionary commented, the church was also exploiting the poor by promising them wealth if they only give more to the church. This put the church and the government run businesses in the dreadful place of exploiting the poor and helpless instead of helping them.  Mortimer and Carlotta were both appalled at the things the missionary told them.

The next week a great deal of their time was occupied thinking of exploitation of the poor. It almost seemed like their eyes were opened to see the poor where they had never seen them before. Both Mortimer and Carlotta had taken it very seriously to care for their employees during their time building up their company and running it. They firmly believed that business could balance making a profit with providing benefits and a good salary to employees. That was why they eventually sold the company to the employees. In some ways they saw their employees as the family they never had. They knew that some people would mismanage funds no matter how much money they earned. However, their employees were always paid wages that would allow them to have a level of financial stability not available to those who worked for businesses that cared only for profit.

After the missionary left Mortimer and Carlotta spent the week patting themselves on their backs for their good behavior toward their own employees. They also patted themselves on their backs for their generosity to the church. They were also happy to note that while their church always had a fund raising campaign they did not place the burden of funding the church projects on the poor of the church. Their preacher lived on a modest budget. He had even refused raises and other benefits because he thought it would not look right for a pastor to live above the majority of his church members. From their point of view they were in the clear when it came to exploiting the poor.

Their gambling night arrived.  They did start at the usual time, but they did not stop at the usual time.  This Saturday was no different except for one thing. They both kept winning far more than ever before. First the more they won the happier they were. Then they began to notice how many poor people were actually in the casino. Everywhere they looked there were people obviously far too poor to be spending money gambling. And the house was packed. 

At first Mortimer was appalled that so many people who obviously could not afford it were wasting money on gambling. ‘Carlotta,’ he said.  ‘I never noticed how many poor people were here.’  Carlotta replied, ‘neither did I.’
‘Of course we really can’t help what they do with their money.’ Said Mortimer.
‘No we can’t,’ Carlotta replied. ‘The real issue is that we are part of exploiting the poor.’
‘What are you talking about.’ Mortimer said.
‘Well, it looks like 80% of the people here gambling are poor to very poor. That means 80% of our winnings come from the poor. We are definitely taking advantage of the poor.’
‘Well I’ll be.’ Mortimer said. ‘Who’d a thunk it?’

Mortimer and Carlotta realized that gambling was participating in exploitation of the poor.  What they did about it was up to their conscience. I hope they remember that the Bible says Christians are to come out from among them and be separate.

The thing is that disciplined gambling may not be seen as a vice because the spender is not spending more than they can afford. They are not in charge of who is allowed to gamble.  If the poor want to gamble, then they have the right to do so.  If their families suffer, then it just what happens when family bread winners make wrong choices.  It is equally true however, that anyone who gambles is aiding and abetting in exploitation of the poor. In gambling the American dream of financial security through hard work and planning is replaced by ‘I want to win the lottery’.  They pray they will be ‘lucky’ the next time they pull a slot or roll the dice. 

In Gambling the gambler is trying to take what others lose.  Is it legal?  Yes it is?  Is it moral?  No, it is not.  Does God want His children to spend the money He has given them chasing ‘luck’ instead of honoring Him?  Of course not. 

By the way, who is ‘luck’?
‘Luck’ is a figment of your imagination just like mother earth.  If either luck or mother earth existed they would both be evil.  They only smile on people accidentally.  Both luck and mother earth are cruel masters.  Remember that when David faced the giant he did not ask luck to help him. He put his trust in the Almighty God of creation.

There is also the point that the apostle Paul made when he pointed out that he was free to do all things that are legal. However, he restrained himself from doing many things that are legal because he realized that some things appear as sin to younger brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul did not want to be a stumbling block to any fellow believer.  If a Christian is able to mentally distance themselves from the fact that gambling is a vice by rationalizing the evil that goes with it, they still cannot change the fact that many young Christians or people under conviction to become Christians do consider gambling a sin.  There is no way gambling can help you.  It can only hurt you and many others.

It is positively true that those who gamble their salaries away will gamble whether you gamble or not.  They will lose their money.  They will get another paycheck and gamble that away too.  But you do not have to participate in enabling them to keep their lives in the gutter. 

PS.  I want you all to know that I have never been in a Casino unless you count the airport at Las Vegas.  There was also a close call at a K-mart also in Las Vegas.  They had slot machines everywhere – including in the ladies bathroom.  I was taught not to gamble, but my real conviction came when Texas got the lottery and those scratch cards at convenience stores were everywhere.  The Convenience stores are really what opened my eyes.  I used to pick up ice for our auto repair shop every morning at a convenience store.  After the scratch tickets became available I saw the poorest of the poor buying scratch tickets early every single morning.  They were filthy, in poor health, and obviously mentally lacking in some way.  They would get to the counter, fill their coffee cup, buy tickets, and go back to sit down.  Then they scratched off their tickets, and went back to buy more.  I don’t know if the laws have changed, but the clerks should be able to refuse to sell more tickets after a certain amount.  At a different convenience store one evening I was paying for gas.  There was a woman with a car that was broken down and in need of major repair sitting in the parking lot with her hood up.  She was trying to borrow money to ‘get her car fixed’.  Some people gave her money.  She immediately went in and bought scratch tickets because she needed more money to actually get the car fixed.  The clerk begged her to stop.  She threatened to call the police if the clerk refused to sell her tickets.  It was horrible to watch.  We saw things like that all the time. I mean – where else can you get gas except at a convenience store?

As our economy shrinks and times get harder for everyone, I look to see the gambling industry grow – because people will become desperate as they see their chances of becoming ‘rich’ grow slimmer and slimmer.  Don’t encourage them by joining them.  They need help.  They-need to know Jesus Christ.  We all need to rely on the directions and promise in Psalm 37:3-5 which says:  
3Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

Gambling is trusting to ‘luck’ instead of trusting in the sure promises of Jesus Christ.