The Great Love of God

Before conversion we followed the ways of this world, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature. Even though we were in willful rebellion “because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4, 5). No other religion has a God like this: A God who loves His fallen creatures so completely that He gave His only Son and anyone who believes in Him shall have eternal life (John 3:16).

~ Jim Weikal

Choices Can Last a Lifetime, Some Last an Eternity

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.

~ Bill Rudge

Time Passes Quickly

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.

Angelic Advice

by Jim Weikal

The angel said with a loud voice:

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).

Powerful & Effective PRAYER

by BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

Seeking God’s Will

God is looking for men and women who will inspire others. Those who will show, through the way they live, what it means to be totally committed to Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. This will only become a reality by those who devote themselves to prayer and Bible study.

An important principle for having a powerful and effective prayer life is to seek God’s will and not our own. This is taught by Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer:

“Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays in the following manner:

“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

The essence of Jesus’ life reflects His willingness to humble Himself and submit to the will of His Father (see Philippians 2:5-11).

The apostle John reiterates that we should pray according to God’s will:

“This is the confidence that we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

John could not have stated it more clearly: If we want God to hear our prayers, then we must seek God’s will and not our own. Our prayer lives will be ineffective if we approach God on our own terms and in accordance to our will. However, they will become powerful and effective if we humble ourselves before the Lord and submit to His will for our lives.

Praying the Promises

Praying the promises in God’s Word, having a powerful prayer life, and living by the truth and principles in the Bible are great ways to keep one’s life in submission to the Lord.

Excerpts from BJ’s E-book, Powerful and Effective Prayer, available free of charge at http://www.billrudge.org.