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What’s Your Ticket to Heaven?

ticket toheaven
All the love in the world cannot and will not get you into heaven. The world would like us to believe that church membership, love for humanity, devotion to humanitarian causes and good deeds will add points to gaining a ticket to heaven and eternal life.

WRONG! Sorry to burst your bubble, but only a personal relationship with Jesus will get you through the pearly gates. Oh how we like to envision that everyone who is ‘good’ and passes into the hereafter is heaven bound; but based on bible scriptures and the words of Jesus, it just isn’t true.

The enemy of this world, Satan, is a master of deceit and has convinced many that our ticket to heaven is by our good works. Our only way to eternal life comes only through our acceptance of God’s grace. Good deeds and efforts are meaningless to God if we haven’t put our faith in Jesus.

What is God’s grace?

God sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross and shed his blood in payment for our sin. It is that sacrifice alone and a soul stamped with the blood of Jesus that gains us entry into the gates of heaven.

“But we know that no one is made right with God by meeting the demands of the law. It is only through the faithfulness of Jesus the Anointed that salvation is even possible. This is why we put faith in Jesus the Anointed: so we will be put right with God. It’s His faithfulness—not works prescribed by the law—that puts us in right standing with God because no one will be acquitted and declared “right” for doing what the law demands.”  Galatians 2:16 (VOICE)

Say what? Let me clarify.

The above scripture and many others confirm this truth. Our good works are meaningless to God if we believe them to be a redemptive way to earn our way into heaven. Not happening!

It’s God’s grace and faithfulness, not our works that acquits us of our sin and gives us right standing before God. Grace is found in the death, burial and resurrection of His son, Jesus. Our acceptance of this grace is called salvation.

Faithfulness is an extension of God’s grace to continually work within our life to accomplish his purpose and goodwill. Only by doing HIS works for HIS purpose under HIS grace is anything we do counted righteous.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 19:21

I encourage everyone to do good works while living on earth. But if you are counting on your works to earn you a seat at the banquet table in heaven, think again.

The only way to get a ticket stamped for heaven is to accept Jesus as your savior and acknowledge that His blood sacrifice at the cross is your only redemption from sin.

Remember the thief next to Jesus on the cross?

In death he asked Jesus “Remember me when You come into Your kingdom!” (Luke 23:42) This thief had likely done nothing good in his lifetime, yet he was given admission into God’s kingdom by grace alone.

“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43

It’s hard for us to accept that there is nothing we can do now or ever to earn the grace of God. It goes against everything this world tells us. Yet, that’s the beauty of grace, it’s a gift.  We can’t buy, earn or barter with grace. Our only option is to accept it.

What will be stamped on your ticket at death?

Will it read Redeemed by God’s Grace or Redeemed by my own self-worth and good works? It’s probably a question you should ask yourself sooner than later. No one knows the time of their death but, today, as you read this post you have been given an opportunity to buy your ticket to heaven in advance, before it expires.

people are destined to die once and then face (God’s) judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)

God’s judgment is based on your acceptance of His grace, on the salvation He offers through His son, Jesus. It’s simple, direct and without fanfare.

This simple prayer, if prayed in earnest, sums it all up:

Heavenly Father,

Make yourself real to me. Your Word says if I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

I believe Jesus died on the cross for the sin that separates me from having direct communication with you. His blood paid for the redemption of my soul. I want my death ticket to be insured, non-refundable and stamped REDEEMED by the blood of the Lamb.

From this day forward, let my actions, words and deeds be counted as righteous in your sight.

Amen

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Dirty Lenses

dirty_lensesWhen our lens on life becomes clouded and smudged with the filth of this world it’s hard to keep our eyes on where God wants to lead us to fulfill His purpose. The same is true of the 50-plus pair of eyeglasses I own that have fingerprints, dirt and spatters of who knows what that obstructs my vision to see things clearly. I’m amazed I manage to get through the day, drive my car or see the screen of my iPhone and not notice my dirty glasses.

The perception of our circumstances is altered when viewed through dirty lenses and over time, we tend to acclimate ourselves to the dirty filter. Sin is like that. We don’t see the fingerprint smudges of sin in our life unless we hold the lens of our heart up to the light of God’s Word.

I do my best every day to avoid touching my eyeglass lenses, but those efforts prove futile. When I hold them up to the light at day’s end, I am surprised at the accumulated smudges and smears clouding my view.

I liberally spray them with water and use my handy-dandy cleaning cloth to wipe off the filth and my view of the world suddenly changes. Images appear sharper and I can focus with greater clarity.

Our Christian walk also requires daily cleansing to avoid the contamination of this world. Failing to do so will dramatically alter our view of what is right and what is wrong. Dirty glasses influence our perception of current cultural trends and popular opinions and hides God’s from our view. It’s the proverbial, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Are you in a place where you need God’s living waters to wash your spiritual glasses and His word to be your cleaning cloth?

“Show me the right path, O LORD ; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalms 25:4

God can’t point out the right path if we’re looking through dirty lenses. We must allow the Word of God to wash away the daily grime, crude and filth that this corrupt and sinful world throws at us to successfully walk in the paths of righteousness.

Today’s Prayer:

Dear Lord,

When things within this world cloud my vision give my spiritual life a serious wipe down and deep clean with the washing of your Word. Let me never lose sight of your eternal purpose for me when I choose to clean my glasses and seek the right path.

“Wash away all my evil and make me clean from my sin!” Psalms 51:2 (GNT)

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I DON’T KNOW ABOUT TOMORROW

WhoHoldsTomorrow

The past several weeks have been filled with heartache. I lost a good friend to cancer and a family member at age 59 to Alzheimer’s. I grope for words of comfort to share with those families torn with grief at the death of a loved one. Amidst this recent roller coaster ride of emotion, I received word that a cousin has been diagnosed with liver/colon cancer. The devastating diagnosis comes just days after her sister’s husband was laid to rest.

Nothing equips us for the detours of this earthly journey. We can prepare, plan and pray, but ultimately, we can’t control our future. For me, the reality of our human limitations was most realized as I watched my Daddy take his last breath. He was a dedicated minister, pastor and Bible teacher. His commitment to his faith was unquestioned; yet, he suffered a debilitating disease that led to death. He couldn’t control his future.

Did my Daddy pray for a miracle? Of course he did. Did he question or understand the earthly path God had chosen for him? If he did, he never shared those thoughts. Instead, he chose to accept those things he could not change and to live each day with hope and purpose.

Only God knows what tomorrow holds for us, our nation and our world. Satan continually deploys detours to keep us from following God’s divine plan.
His earthly arsenal includes sickness, disease, addiction, poverty, abuse, persecution and even death in his attempts to undermine our commitment of faith in Jesus Christ. Stand firm in your Christian faith; refuse to let the enemy compromise or have a stronghold on your faith.

This is a song my Daddy would sing in church when I was a youngster. It still seems very appropriate.

I DON’T KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from its sunshine,
For its skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what lies ahead.

CHORUS:
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But, I know who holds tomorrow
And, I know who holds my hand.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.”
Romans 8:38

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GIVE IT ALL TO JESUS

shattered-dreams3There is no amount of preparation for blind-sided moments life randomly throws into our path. One minute life is good and then something happens that stuns our senses; within seconds our immediate reality becomes surreal as we struggle to make sense of what just happened.

The phone call informing me my sister-in-law had been killed instantly in a car accident was just one of those blindsided moments for me. There have been others; like the words ‘Stage IV’ uttered by the oncologist when my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer or ‘I’m leaving you for someone else’.

History is filled with stories about mankind being blindsided by events or occurrences they can’t control. Certainly the Philistines were blindsided when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Samson was blindsided when Delilah cut off his locks of hair. Life doesn’t afford us the opportunity to redo moments in time. I wish it did and I am fairly certain you feel the same.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my ex-husband still loved me, my sister-in-law was still alive or my dad’s cancer had been miraculously cured? But none of that happened and it never will. My new reality is to accept the challenge to regroup and move forward. It’s the only survival option we have and with God’s help it’s not impossible.

If you have been blindsided by something or someone in life, there is hope in Jesus. In our brokenness, hurt and sadness, he reshapes the attitude of our mind and infuses hope within us. The scars still remain, but so do the scars on the hands and feet of Jesus. It is our blindsided scars that bear witness to our desire to survive amidst some of life’s most difficult moments if we give them all to Jesus.

This song sums it up for me.

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THE BUDDY BENCH

BuddyBenchLast week my granddaughter, Olivia, had a melt-down because she was being excluded by one of her school friends at recess time. Apparently, her friend had a new best friend and all former friends, including my granddaughter, were being ignored.

In an effort to promote harmony, I suggested we have a sleep-over for all parties involved. In doing so, NeeNee had a serious conversation with the girls about the emotional upsets they were having at school.

I love the honesty, resiliency and forgiving spirit of kids. As I talked with the girls they were candid about their feelings and in between their tearful sobs they talked about how it felt to be left out and sit on the playground ‘buddy bench’ the entire recess period because no one offers to play with them.

Being excluded at any age causes us to ask ourselves, “What is wrong with me.” Loneliness takes up residency in our spirit and opens the door for resentment, anger and, in some cases, thoughts of suicide. In my lifetime, I have experienced that kind of loneliness. Betrayal, divorce, joblessness, anxiety attacks, death of a loved one; or the loss of or longing for friendship have all taken lead role at some time or another.

The reason for your loneliness may be different than mine, but one thing is certain, loneliness is no respecter of persons; the emotions it stirs within us are the same. Perhaps you are sitting on the ‘buddy bench’ right now waiting for someone to befriend you, to care; to listen. That person is sitting next to you at this very moment. His name is Jesus and all you need to do is take His hand. He longs to lead you to the still waters and restore your soul; He longs to be your friend.

You will always find Jesus on the ‘buddy bench’ waiting to be a friend to anyone who asks.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20, ESV

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LEANING AGAINST THE WIND



sailboatSome of my best life lessons have been learned while leaning against the wind with my sails pointed in the opposing direction because I refused to be navigated by the tailwinds of popular opinions.

In my mid- twenties, I participated in catamaran races at Higgins Lake in Northern Michigan. There were times tailwinds were so strong you would glide across the lake on one pontoon. It was smooth sailing. Then, there were races where it was a struggle to reach the next marker because head winds forced you to sail in a zigzag pattern. It was a struggle to move forward, but there were no other options other than sit, sink, or sail.

In today’s world, Christians are continually faced with views that oppose and challenge our faith and moral beliefs. We find ourselves leaning against the wind while others glide forward on one pontoon; they appear to be winning the race. But are they?

Whether by choice and or an unexpected change in wind direction, our Christian faith grows when we are faced with adversity. It’s easy to sail through life with a belief system based on popular opinions, liberal attitudes and no regard for biblical principles. But being the first to the finish line doesn’t guarantee a trophy. Unless we point our sails toward God’s finish line, we lose the race.

Are you currently leaning into the wind because your Christian beliefs are being challenged? Hold tight to the ropes of your sails and know that when you ‘come about’ you will be pointed in the right direction. Allow the Word of God to navigate your direction in life; it’s your only GPS in a world ripe with opinions and beliefs that contradict fundamental Christian values.

Don’t fail to lean against (or into) the wind when necessary to stay on course to the finish line. Let Jesus guide your sails when faced with adversity. You may not take first place, but you will finish with your integrity and Christian beliefs intact.

“And a tiny rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot wants it to go, even though the winds are strong” (James 3:4).

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SALT IN MODERATION

Salt of the Earth

I took a bite from a slice a pizza and gagged from the excessive amount of salt. How could our favorite local pizzeria produce a great pizza last week and an over-salted pizza this week?  The change in taste was so exaggerated I felt the restaurant manager should be notified; so I placed a call.

The manager stated there are different pizza cooks on any given day. He would check into the day and time the pizza was ordered to determine who had been over aggressive with the salt. I thanked him for his time and ended the call; but not without apprehension about future orders.

Salt is good when used proportionately.

It is a preservative and flavoring necessary to our survival. But salt is easily diluted by water and when that happens, its valuable mineral properties are greatly diminished. We no longer have the proper balance needed to maintain a healthy life.

It’s possible to oversaturate ourselves with salt which depletes bodily fluids and causes dehydration. To get an idea of how the life juices can be sucked out by dehydration, look no further than dried fruits and veggies.

Spiritual salt

The Scripture gives reference to Christians being the salt of the earth. But what does this mean?  Is it possible, like the pizza cook, to over salt our life? And if that is true, I can only assume that lack of salt produces a life that lacks flavor and zest.

My grandma taught me that a few pinches of salt were enough to season the dish being served. I believe the same is true of our Christian walk. We don’t want to lose our flavor and zest because we allow ourselves to be diluted by the world. On the other hand, we don’t want to over salt our life into spiritual dehydration. It is only when we proportionately salt our life with the Word of God that we will have a balanced and healthy Christian life.

Don’t over indulge in salt like our local pizza cook, use moderation.