Consider Carefully

by Bill Rudge

The following confessions of faith have heartfelt meaning in my relationship with Christ. They are frequently part of my prayer and fasting time:

You are the CREATOR and Sovereign Lord of the Universe; ELOHIM, the strong and faithful One; ADONAI, Master and Lord; YAHWEH, the Great I Am; KING of Kings and LORD of Lords …

You are Holy, Righteous, Just, Faithful, True, Loving, Kind, Merciful, Long-Suffering …

You are my Source and Strength, my God and King, my Savior and Messiah, my Lord and Master, my Creator and Sustainer, my Rock and Fortress, my Shield and Sword, my Protector and Provider, my Helper and Healer …

My desire and prayer is to:

• Walk with You like Enoch (Genesis 5:22-24).

• Be considered Your friend like Abraham (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

• Be considered Your servant like Moses (Joshua 1:2).

• Have a heart after You like David (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).

• Be obedient like Jesus (Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; Hebrews 5:8).

• Be a faithful witness like Antipas (Revelation 2:13).

Now read all the above once again slowly as you ponder and pray about each description of God and what He means in your heart and life. Then give the LORD your praise, thanks and worship because He is truly worthy!

Considering Eternity

by Bill Rudge

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.

Where Is Your Treasure?

by Bill Rudge

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!

On the Right Side

by Bill Rudge

Do not think God is sleeping, silent or soft on the sin that is infecting our world. Increasing rebellion and immorality (often expressed as freedom and enlightenment) has not gone unnoticed by the Creator. Throughout history, God has periodically sent judgments to bring individuals and nations to repentance. When they refuse to repent, His judgments intensify.

God, who is long-suffering and not wanting anyone to perish (1 Peter 4), is now storing up His wrath for a day of vengeance and judgment (Revelation 16:19). This day of reckoning will bring even the bravest and most defiant and arrogant of men and women to their knees – either in repentance or judgment.

Don’t be impressed or influenced by today’s society – the day is quickly approaching when the cup of His wrath will reach its fill. Don’t be afraid of the violent and ruthless, for they will be the ones cowering in fear before their just and righteous Creator. The LORD is once again about to enter this world with undeniable power and might. Be certain that you are on the right side – the LORD’s – and living the way you should – honoring Him and abiding by His Word.

As The Grass Fades (Psalm 103)

by Bill Rudge

Everyone, sooner or later, comes to realize that youth and vigor fade like the waning summer days of September.

photo by Tabitha Smith

The most attractive people in the world will, in a few short years, lose much of their beauty. Their “perfect” bodies and good looks will give way to sags and wrinkles. Just visit a nursing home and compare the residents to their youthful pictures.

A Sports Festival I attended included men and women at their peak of perfection: massive muscles from steroids, chiseled bodies from intense training, youthful appearance, vivacious…. But looking beyond the glamorous surface, while witnessing and giving out my Reaching Your Maximum Potential and Who Is This Jesus? books, I noticed visible flaws from aging, sun damaged skin, over training and overdosing. Many who just a few years earlier were at their pinnacle, now limped while walking due to bad knees, hips or backs; had faces engraved with wrinkles, sculpted bodies with extended bellies and hernias, tattoos that looked grotesque from shrinking muscles and shriveling skin; varicose veins – the result of over exertion and straining; surgical scars on shoulders and knees from injuries caused by lifting excessive amounts of weight….

Eternal Significance

A lifetime of training in athletics, academics or the arts can be wiped out in a moment of time – an unexpected injury, debilitating accident or dread disease. The Book of Ecclesiastes says to enjoy each day to its fullest, but focus on the important priorities because life is but a passing vapor. A self-written obituary by 69-year-old Emily Phillips noted: “I was born; I blinked; and it was over.”

David said it this way:

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more (Psalm 103:15,16).

Life goes by too quickly to disregard or even defy the Lord for a few years of fleeting indulgence. Chasing after worldly pleasures and possessions is – as Solomon learned 3,000 years ago through personal experience – futility and foolishness.

Why spend a lifetime developing skills and talents yet neglect that which has never-ending significance? Enjoy the temporary but focus on the eternal. Endeavor to develop attributes and qualities whose benefits last forever.

You have a lifetime (however long or short that may be) to determine your eternal destiny; an eternity to enjoy the rewards, or suffer the consequences for the choices you made in this lifetime. You have the final word in this life; God has it in the next life.

Wisdom from Solomon

It would be expedient to heed the wisdom of Solomon: His search in riches and pleasure inspired him to conclude the book of Ecclesiastes with the following admonition:

However many years a person may live, let them enjoy them all. But remember that days of darkness will be many. Rejoice while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before you grow old and no longer enjoy living – before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you say, “I find no pleasure in them.” The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: Fear [Reverence] God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Adapted from Ecclesiastes 11:8,9 and 12:13-14.)

Change of Perspective

As we grow older, and hopefully wiser, our outlook changes. Enjoyment of the passions of this life fade like the flexibility and suppleness of aging joints. It is good that God uses the degeneration and deterioration of our physical bodies to divert our focus from the pleasures of this physical domain to that of our approaching destiny.

I often tell people that time is the great equalizer: It has a way of catching up with us and changing our perspective – as do our circumstances. If you have not yet discovered, you soon will, that what matters most in your younger years, matters little when you are older, and what matters little when you are young matters most when you get older. The things of this earth grow strangely dim as Eternity looms on the horizon.

Some of what was a fun time for me as a teenager is now foolishness. Some of what I considered boring and weak back then, I recognize as wise and strong today. Some of what I thought was a waste of time and irrelevant is now a priority and passion. Much of what I rushed toward then, I avoid today. What I fled from before, I embrace today. My perspective has dramatically changed since coming to know Jesus Christ. It is diametrically opposed to what it was as a teenager before accepting Christ. With years, comes experience, and through experience, comes a new viewpoint.

Some people turn away from the sins of their youth because they have come to know the Lord, experience the joy of being forgiven and the peace of walking with God. Others do so because they are forced by circumstances or advancing age to no longer indulge in them.

It is far better to make the changes while you have the choice and the ability to do so, than to wait until you are one day forced to. However, whatever it takes, I hope you have amended your attitude and behavior from that which is contrary to God’s nature and His purpose for creating you, to that which honors Him. True repentance means that you would not repeat sinful behavior if you were back in those circumstances or had the opportunity once again.

Nourish Your Spirit

It is inevitable that your physical body will wear out; muscles will shrink and bones will weaken. Your body will eventually cease to function and will return to the dust from which God created it – but your spirit will live forever.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly [physical body] we are wasting away, yet inwardly [the eternal spirit] we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

In light of this certainty, my suggestion is to spend more time nourishing your spirit through Bible study and prayer and less time pampering the flesh. You should be convinced by this point in your life that sinful behavior, really does result in the consequences warned about in the pages of Scripture. Hopefully, you have gained enough wisdom over the years to have learned what is pleasing to the Lord and acquired enough respect and reverence for God to avoid that which dishonors Him. David goes on to write in Psalm 103:

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear [reverence] Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts (Psalm 103:17,18).

David confidently proclaimed in the closing verse of his most famous psalm:

I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever (Psalm 23:6).

What Really Matters?

When all is said and done, what really matters? Ponder the following questions then make the necessary adjustments accordingly.

• Where will I spend eternity?
• Am I ready to meet my Creator?
• Did I honor Jesus Christ with my life (and ministry)?
• Was I a wise steward of the gifts and resources God entrusted to me?
• Did my life bear fruit by leading others to Christ?
• Was His will and purpose fulfilled through me?

May the longing of our hearts and the focus of our lives be to know and to exalt our Creator. May we inherit all God has prepared for those who love Him and obey His Word. May we rejoice because of the assurance that at Christ’s return believers’ bodies will be transformed into immortal, glorified bodies to rule and reign over a world returned to its original paradise.

Count the Cost

by Bill Rudge

“No one can become My disciple without giving up everything for Me.” Luke 14:33

DSC_0047

Photo by Tom Lodge

Once you are convinced that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, God uniquely manifest in the flesh, and the only way of salvation, you must count the cost before you give your life to Him. In Luke 14:28-33, Jesus shared the importance of counting the cost before following Him. He said, “One should not start building a tower without counting the cost, lest he run out of money and be ridiculed when unable to finish it. Should not a king about to go to war first consider whether he is able with 10,000 men to oppose a force of 20,000?” In the same way, Jesus said, anyone who wants to be His disciple must count the cost of giving up everything for Him.

Before I was a Christian, I thought I was god. Not God the Creator, but god in the sense that I was invincible. I did some crazy things because of that philosophy. Deceived by the same lie Satan used on Adam and Eve, I was walking in rebellion against the one true God.

But I came to the realization that I was not god — that Jesus Christ was God’s unique revelation of truth. He was the One I needed as my Savior and Lord.

I Made the Choice

Once I examined the evidence, and was convinced who Christ is, I had to make a choice. Do I reject Him and walk away in rebellion and self-deluded pride? Or do I humble myself, admit my rebellion, and trust in Him for my salvation?

By God’s grace, I chose to give Christ my life. Making a 180-degree turn, I began following Him as Savior and Lord. It’s called repentance. It’s dying to self and living for Christ. We must dethrone self, quit playing God, and place Christ in His rightful position as Lord of our lives. Then His goals become our goals. His desires become our desires. His will becomes our will.

To illustrate, let’s pretend you are on one trapeze and Jesus is on another. You have one hand holding onto your trapeze, and one hand holding onto Christ. You want to live for Christ, but you also want to live for self. You want to obey the Lord, but you also want to have your own way and do your own thing. You want Him to be your God, but you also want to be your own god. You want to run your own life, make your own decisions, have your own goals, and fulfill your own desires. But you can’t hold onto both. Eventually the two trapeze bars go in opposite directions. If you try to both live for self and for the Lord it will tear you apart.

That’s why there are so many neurotic Christians walking around confused, depressed, and discouraged, not knowing what they believe or what God’s will is. When Christians are only half-committed (trying to live for self and trying to live for the Lord) they are the most miserable of people. They go out to witness and say, “Don’t you want what I have?” The non-Christian says, “No thanks, I have enough problems already.” Instead of having an impact on their world for Christ, as the first century believers did, their compromised lives tend to turn people off. That’s why we will never influence our world for Christ unless we ourselves are first totally sold out to Him.

There is no middle road. You can’t straddle the fence. You must totally accept or reject Him. And to not totally accept Him is to reject Him. Don’t let Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:16 be true of you:

So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of My mouth.

You must count the cost and then make a wise choice – total commitment to Christ as Lord!

Excerpted from Reaching Your Maximum Potential in Christ (which is being updated and expanded for its third printed edition and E-book).

Two Men – Two Destinies

by Bill Rudge

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant physicist – but the intricate prophecies in Scripture and the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ far surpass any human knowledge or ability. The psalmist stated, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). The human conscience and the Creation point with definitive clarity to a magnificent Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

The prophet Isaiah declared, “Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me” (Isaiah 43:10). Moses wrote, “There is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

If Stephen Hawking was right about God, then he and Billy Graham lost nothing. However, if Billy was right, then he won everything and Stephen lost everything. In other words, Stephen Hawking had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Billy Graham had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The apostle Paul makes it clear that when we stand before God we will have no defense for rejecting Him.  He states in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Jeremiah the prophet precisely stated, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God will move heaven and earth to make known His way of salvation to anyone who seeks Him with a sincere and humble heart. Each of us has both the freedom and opportunity in this life to determine our eternal destiny.

“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

“And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

Instead of discounting a creator and replacing Him with a faulty system of evolution that ultimately leads to a dead end, you can come to know the Creator in a real and personal way. Once you do, your endless hours of studying theories that continually change and dissipate can end and you can look at this amazing Creator’s creation through eyes of gratitude, hope and assurance.

Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

The LORD Is My….

by Bill Rudge

In this chaotic world that we live in, it is comforting to know that the LORD is my….

Creator who designed me.

Savior who died for me.

God and King whom I serve.

Rock on which I stand.

Strength in times of weakness.

Protection in times of danger.

Defender in times of battle.

Fortress in times of trouble.

Light in times of darkness.

Peace in times of distress.

Comforter in times of pain.

Provider in times of need.

Companion in times of isolation.

Multiplier when funds are low.

Healer in times of sickness.

Helper in times of difficulty.

Hope in times of despair.