There may be times you feel the Lord has failed you or is not listening to your cries. Maybe you feel like Charlotte Elliott. She had just turned 30 and her health began to deteriorate. She was in severe pain and became an invalid. She’d always had a sweet disposition but now was getting irritable with people.
One day a minister visited her. She asked him, “Why has God treated me like this? Doesn’t He love me?” He replied, “… You are holding on to hate and anger towards God because you have nothing else to hold on to. You need to come to Christ just as you are and find salvation in Him.”
That night Charlotte pondered his words about coming to Christ just as she was, and gave her life to Him. Years later on the anniversary of accepting Christ she pondered again the words the minister spoke to her the day he visited and she penned the words to the hymn, Just As I Am.
Are you holding on to anger, hate or hurt because of difficult circumstances and wondering why God is allowing this to happen? Consider if you have sincerely given your life to Christ and made Him your Lord. Then come, just as you are. Jesus is waiting.
Two days before kindergarten started, Bill’s granddaughter broke her collarbone. As painful as that was, it also meant she could not take the horse riding lessons she longed for, having even given up dance lessons to fulfill this dream of hers.
The fourth day of kindergarten Bill had the opportunity to take his granddaughter to school. As he held her backpack, she struggled to pull out her lunch and papers to put into her cubbyhole. Being right-handed, this was quite a task. With her right arm in a sling, she had to use her left hand. Bill gave her a kiss on the forehead and told her to try to have a wonderful day. Despite her physical injury and the disappointment of not being able to take horse riding lessons, she responded, “Papa, I always have a wonderful day!”
Oh, what a lesson we can learn from her words! The Bible clearly instructs us to have this attitude: “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). In Philippians (4:4), we are told to “Rejoice in the Lord always.” As we make the choice to rejoice, we will learn that “the joy of the LORD is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
While working out at the YMCA in San Diego, I overheard two businessmen discussing death. One said, “I am not sure what’s beyond the grave, but no one will immortalize me anyway, or remember me years from now.” The other man said, “I figure that whatever is out there will have to accept me as I am.” I said, “I don’t mean to jump in, but don’t you think eternity is a long time? Therefore, it might be wise to spend a little more time considering its implications. Pause to reflect on the complexity of the human body and your DNA, the diversity and splendor of nature, and the vastness and awesomeness of the universe which contains billions of galaxies with billions of stars. If there is a God who created us and this universe – are you going to say to Him, “You must accept me on my terms?” Their look affirmed I was relating, so I continued. “No, if there is a Creator, then I must come to Him on His terms, not mine.”
They listened intently and their body language indicated they agreed with what I said so far, so I shared how I had rejected Christianity and spent many years searching in atheism, occultism, Eastern disciplines, and New Ageism until my search for truth brought me back to the God of the Bible. The one guy asked, “Then Jesus Christ is the only way?” I said, “Without a doubt, because He alone has the overwhelming evidence to validate His claims.” After sharing some of the evidence for the inspiration of the Bible and the claims of Christ, I thanked them for listening and they thanked me for sharing.
Bill Rudge has hundreds of witness opportunities every year. The preceding is from a new book he is writing entitled, Impact Evangelism – Sharing Your Faith Anywhere and Everywhere.
A few years ago some of my family members and friends decided to “rough it” on a two week journey through the western United States. All the inconveniences were worth it because of the breathtaking landscapes, incredible experiences, bountiful blessings and unique witnessing opportunities.
This is a reminder to me that, although we face many challenges and difficult times, our lives are also interspersed with beauty and blessings. It is a picture of the hope that we will someday inherit all that God has prepared for us, making all suffering and difficulties in this life pale in comparison.
As the Apostle Paul stated:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Everything you have can be swept away in a flood, burned up in a fire, blown away in a tornado, stolen by thieves, wasted on excessive living or consumed by medical expenses – but what you invest in God’s Kingdom will last forever. Through Jesus Christ you can have an eternal inheritance that will never be robbed, lost, tarnished, spoiled or fade away.
The condition of America’s spiritual health is of utmost concern. Unless our nation’s moral hemorrhage is stopped, it will prove fatal. America will be brought to her knees – either in repentance or from intensifying judgment.
God has given us additional time to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Have we squandered our opportunities or wisely used them? How many of our friends and loved ones have already passed into eternity? Now is the time to share Jesus with family, friends, neighbors, coworkers…while we still have opportunity – while there is yet time.
The Greater Cause
As believers in Jesus Christ we should care less about being politically correct and more about being biblically accurate. We must defend the faith which was once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). Besides, beneficial and lasting social change will only come when the hearts of the people are turned back to their Creator. While many causes are noble, all will prove inadequate and inferior to the transforming power of the Gospel.
Imagine the eternal impact – as well as the social and political benefits – if Christians put increased effort into evangelism. Imagine the positive influence on our nation if the life-changing, eternal life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ were embraced, and compassion instead of hostility, reigned in relationships, personal and national. As a result of loving service in Jesus’ name and living exemplary lives, we would be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14).
The heartbeat of Jesus, before He returns, is the fulfillment of His Great Commission to proclaim the Gospel across the entire world. Evangelism is such a priority that Jesus’ parting words before His ascension instructed the disciples to be His witnesses throughout the earth (Acts 1:8). Jesus went so far as to state that the end will not come until the Gospel is preached in all the world as a witness to all nations (Matthew 24:14).
During the Tribulation period – in the midst of intense persecution – God will use the Two Witnesses (Revelation 11), raise up 144,000 Jewish evangelists (Revelation 7 and 14), and even use angels to proclaim His everlasting Gospel (Revelation 14:6, 7). The harvest will be “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Revelation 7:9).
Financial Security – Not
While it is wise to have reserves for emergencies and future needs, no amount of accumulated wealth and resources will protect you from what is coming. Currently you can still choose to give where you want, but in the future you may not have that option. Your resources and investments could be confiscated or controlled by another. Your money could be taken through identity theft, bank account seizures, medical expenses, and so on.
Eventually, everything you have will be taken. Besides, you can’t take it with you when you die or when Jesus returns. The only security in this turbulent world is the LORD. Those who horde and stockpile earthly riches will be bankrupt. Jesus said:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:19 – 21).
Wise financial planning includes far more than accumulating retirement accounts and material possessions. Countless people have lost large amounts of money that might have been used for the Kingdom – providing them an eternal reward that surpasses any monetary gains they had hoped to achieve. Do not let the words of James 5:2, 3 be true of you:
Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!
The day rapidly approaches when each of us will give an account to God concerning our stewardship of finances, time and talents (2 Corinthians 5:9, 10). Therefore, it would be wise to focus on God’s priority: Evangelism and Missions. A significant portion of our resources, time and energy should be put into sharing the love and truth of Jesus with a lost and dying world – this is sound financial planning and most certainly the best inheritance.
Ask yourself: Do I care more about my political agenda or my testimony for Jesus Christ? Do I give more to social and political causes or to missions? Am I neglecting evangelism and witnessing because it is offensive to some? Am I using my life and money primarily for personal pursuits and pleasures or to help fulfill the Great Commission of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth? What am I doing to advance God’s Kingdom and reach people for eternity before the days of opportunity are gone?
Remember, true and lasting riches consist of spiritual blessings and the legacy of faith you leave your loved ones. We cannot take anything into eternity with us except the lives we touch for Jesus Christ!
The following poem was written by Bruce Miller, a childhood friend of Bill Rudge on the West Hill. His dramatic conversion gave him the desire to lead others to Jesus. Bruce currently serves in a prison ministry and was able to minister in Haiti and India when Bill opened doors for him to go.
I felt so lonely, So full of despair. My heart overwhelmed — Did anyone care?
As I looked in the distance, A hill I could see. They called it Golgotha Or Mount Calvary. What was the attraction? What could this thing be?
I moved in much closer To hear what was said. They laughed, and they mocked, “Soon, He’ll be dead!” I looked more intently And there hung three men. Each nailed to a cross, Awaiting their end.
It was the one in the middle I noticed the best. He was wounded severely; He gasped for a breath.
I heard Him say something I’ll never forget! “Father, forgive them,” He cried with His voice. “I give My life freely; This is My choice.”
Then the sky grew black; The light was so dim. One cried out, “Even God’s abandoned Him!”
I stood there in silence And could not understand All the hatred and violence Done to this man.
Some called him “Messiah,” “God’s Son” — was it true? As I wondered intently, What did He do?
Before I could ask Him, He lifted His head And cried, “It is finished,” And then He was dead.
They parted His garments, Then drove a sword in His side, As I wondered, amazed, Why He had died.
These questions are frequent Among many today. What had He done? What price did He pay?
The answer is simple Why He died on the cross — For the proud and the selfish, The sinner, the lost, For the dying, the hurting, The lame and the blind, For the sins of the world, For your sins and mine!
A man nearing the age of 70 who had squandered his life, told me he had asked the Lord to forgive him many times over the years. But after repeated failures, he felt he could never be forgiven for all he had done and was doomed eternally.
The Lord instantly spoke to my heart the following words – “There is no sin the Lord cannot forgive, except the sin that is not asked to be forgiven.” This man who had fallen into hopeless despair for his wasted life, accepted, once again, the Lord’s offer of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). A few years later he died as a powerful witness for Jesus Christ.
Because of Christmas, the life of a rebellious teenager on a path to destruction was saved.
A liar, cheat, thief, and vandal, arrogant and profane, this searching person was dramatically transformed. Only the love and forgiveness of Christ can change a deceiver into a person of integrity who freely gives of his time, resources and services to help others instead of hurting them. Only Jesus can take someone from hitchhiking across the country, hostile toward God, to traveling throughout the world proclaiming Him; or inspire someone voted least likely to succeed in motivating multitudes to reach their maximum potential.
Why would any reasonable person oppose the message of Christ’s birth?
Open your New Testament to the book of Luke and learn all about Jesus’ coming. Then continue through the book of John to discover who this Jesus is. Christ just may become the joy and passion of your life as He has come to be in mine. Merry Christmas!
The following poem was written by Bruce Miller, a childhood friend of Bill Rudge. His dramatic conversion gave him the desire to lead others to Jesus. He currently serves in a prison ministry and was able to minister in Haiti and India when Bill opened doors for him to go.
It’s called the “Great Commission,”
Just who’s supposed to go?
You’ll find the answer on your knees
If you really want to know.
The harvest has been ready,
And the fields are very ripe;
Pray to the Lord for laborers,
Willing to share the light.
It seems today, and always has,
The ones that go are few;
It’s written in the book of Luke
In chapter ten, verse two.
Some say, “I’m just too busy,”
Or, “The timing isn’t right.”
Lift your eyes; look around;
The harvest is already white.
When you see Jesus face to face,
And He asks, “What did you do?”
I hope and pray your answer is,
“I labored, Lord, for you.”
The Great Commission is, and should be, the priority of the Church and every believer in Christ. It is not an option but rather a command. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus did not ask the disciples to go; Jesus commanded they go unto the utter most parts of the earth (see Acts1:8). In Luke 10:2, Jesus told the disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers, and then in verse three, He sent them into the harvest fields.
“Who Will Go?” It is a question intended to stir your heart and mind. After reading my poem, it is my hope you, and myself as well, may respond as Isaiah the prophet did:
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and whowill go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)
“It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
Personally, I think it’s gloomy to strategically place tombstones, spider webs, and ghost shaped pillow cases in a front yard. But, “Hey, that’s me.” I’m not the independent arbitrator of spooky curb appeal. That’s up to each person.
But isn’t it great that when Christians think of death, it’s not in terms of retail merchandise from the Dollar Store or seeing death as “the last bitter hour.” We have Christ’s physical death on the cross once to assure us of salvation and a resurrection to eternal life where sin will be banished . . . expelled, forever and ever! Jesus swallowed up death in victory and He took away its sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).
There are three things for which I have no regrets. Ironically, they are the same three things for which I have some regrets.
First, for my faith in Christ and relationship with Him. I have no regrets for the many years I have been a committed follower of Jesus Christ. But I do have regrets for the years before I accepted Him and the choices I made, which although they did not destroy me – left their marks.
Second, for the time and relationships I have with my close and extended families. I have no regrets for the wonderful times I have had with my children, grandchildren, other family members and friends. They have blessed me in countless ways. But I do regret not having more time to spend with them. I guess I will have to wait until the Millennium and Eternity, when there will be no time restraints or hindrances for these amazing relationships.
Third, concerning my health. I have no regrets for living a life of discipline concerning nutrition and exercise. But I do regret the many years I was a junk food junkie and abused my body and health in so many ways. I am blessed to have regained my health in my 30s and hope to maintain it until I go to be with the Lord.
Pride – thinking more highly of yourself than you really are; giving glory to yourself rather than the One who deserves it
Pleasure – worldly indulgences and self-gratification
Possessions – lots of “toys” and worldly goods
Power – to influence and control others
Pinnacle – reaching the peak of success
Plunge – appeal and popularity decline
Panic – turning to drugs and alcohol or committing suicide
Passing – all over in this life
This pathetic pattern is repeated over and over in every generation, yet many people “sell their souls” for fleeting fame and passing popularity. Instead of chasing fantasies that fade like the radiance of a rainbow, be wise and live your life for the One who promises abundant life here and now, as well as eternal life.
Recently, I was pondering some of the adverse consequences I still face from choices made as a teenager. At that time I thought I was invincible and that youth would last forever. While many of my past injuries and issues have been overcome through positive changes and a healthy lifestyle, some of the scars still remain. They have, however, helped to shape my identity and remind me from where God brought me and what He has done for me.
Since giving my life to Christ at the age of 18, countless blessings have resulted from the positive choices I have made.
Never forget, the choices made during one’s youth – and the consequences of those choices – can last a lifetime or even an eternity. The decision you make concerning Jesus Christ – to accept, reject or just ignore Him – and whether to honor or dishonor His Word will result in blessings or consequences that will last an eternity. So make wise choices.
Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters (Revelation 14:7).
This announcement is made to an unrepentant world in the midst of unprecedented judgments from a holy God. The unrepentant world will ignore the words, but what about you?
Do you Fear God?
Or do you fear man more? For example, is there a person in your life who needs the Gospel, but you will not share it because you are intimidated? You may fear and reverence God privately and around fellow Christians, but what about around the bowling team, your car pool buddies, at a family reunion, or retirement home?
Do you Give God Glory and Worship Him?
The world praises and even worships people who show outstanding athletic ability. For example, the individual who ran the first under-4-minute mile; hit a World Series winning home run; scored the winning goal in the World Cup; made a fantastic catch in the Super Bowl. There is nothing wrong in recognizing someone who does great things even if it only lasts for a short amount of time. But do you give God the glory and worship due Him? After all, He made our physical universe and created each one of us (Genesis 1).