The Missing Ingredient in American Life

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Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. (Hosea 4:1)

God goes on to say, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

These scriptures certainly apply to the United States of America. They accurately describe what we are lacking—truth, love, and knowledge of God. The major difficulties that we face—our economic crisis, our run-away government, and the war on terror—are  just symptoms of the real problem, which is a lack of knowledge of God. We don’t know him and we don’t know what he says in the Bible.

The Bible was America’s textbook until it was banned from our public schools. Now, the majority of Americans know nothing about it. The Bible is the greatest treasure we have. It is the source of essential truths that everyone needs to know, to save them from destruction. Here are some examples:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

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How To Be Born Again

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When Adam joined Satan’s rebellion, he sold all of his descendants into slavery to sin. That’s why all of us are spiritually dead and separated from God, when we are born physically. We are born into Satan’s Kingdom.

All of us, that is, except for Jesus. Since God is his Father, Jesus is the Second Adam. He’s not subject to the law of sin and death like we are. Because he never sinned, his death on the cross has paid the penalty for your sins.

He died (physically) so that you can live (spiritually.) His obedience to God has reversed the effect of Adam’s disobedience.

You are born again when you put your faith in Jesus Christ. That’s when Jesus becomes your Redeemer and your Savior; and you’re no longer a slave to sin. You are translated from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God.

Redemption and Salvation can only be obtained by grace (the unmerited favor of God;) and, they can only be received through faith in Jesus Christ. (Faith is belief in action.)

Salvation is a free gift from God. He had to give it to us because we can not earn it for ourselves. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If you have never made Jesus the Lord of your life, I urge you to do it now. This is the most important decision you will ever make, because your answer determines your eternal destiny.

Will you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, or will you continue to reject him? Do you choose life, or death?Heaven, or Hell?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). You cannot have the Father without the Son, because Jesus and God are inseparable.

There is one true Living God. His name is the Lord of Hosts. He is also called Jehovah and Yahweh. He created the earth and all living things. He’s the God of the Bible. He’s the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. He’s the God of Moses, and he’s the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. All other “gods” are nothing but idols.

God consists of three persons: The Father, who is God in Heaven—Jesus, who is God in human form—and the Holy Spirit, who is God in you.

The Holy Spirit gives you life. He baptizes you into the Body of Believers, and he seals you until the Day of Redemption. When he comes to live in you, he will give you a new heart—a heart full of love. He will change your desires, and give you peace, and joy, and self-control.

The Holy Spirit will give you the desire to please God, and then he will empower you to fulfill that desire. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)

If you want to be born again, pray this prayer: “Heavenly Father, I believe in my heart that Jesus is the Son of God, and that you raised him from the dead. I repent of all my sins, and I make Jesus Lord of my life right now. Please send your Holy Spirit to live in me forever. Thank you for saving me and for adopting me into your family. In Jesus name, Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer and meant it, you are now a child of God. All of your sins are forgiven and you have Eternal Life. You’re in right-standing with God. You’re a citizen of Heaven and a joint-heir with Jesus. You’re a new creation in Jesus Christ.

These blessings are yours because Jesus did you a favor (grace), and you received it through faith. Grace is God’s part of the deal and faith is yours. “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed …” (Romans 4:16)

Now that you’re a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, God’s Spirit will come to live in you. He is a very powerful ally. He will change you from the inside out. He will empower you to do things that seem impossible, like overcoming addictions. He is the same Spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead, and nothing is impossible for him.

You are never alone, because the Spirit of Christ is always with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. As long as you’re walking with God, you don’t have to be afraid of anybody or anything. You don’t have to be afraid of dying, because for you, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

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Doing What Is Right

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

People used to be a lot wiser than they are today. They were familiar with God’s word and they knew how life works. I used to work with men who were a generation older than me. Whenever something good happened to one of them, the others would tell him, “You must be living right.” They knew that God rewards those who do what is right, and he punishes those who don’t. Most people today have never read this verse, “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.” (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

The Lord knows our hearts, and he wants us to be motivated by love. We know that sin is showing a lack of love for others. Sins are the stupid mistakes we make that prevent God from rewarding us. “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins (motives), even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” (Jeremiah 23:24)

The word “Righteousness” is used two ways in the Bible:

(1) Your salvation is not based on the righteousness you do. It’s based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ. God counts your faith in Jesus as righteousness, and righteousness is right-standing with God.

(2) Righteousness is the opposite of sin. It’s doing what’s right. When you’re doing what the Bible says, you’re doing righteousness. “And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” (Deuteronomy 6:25)

God has promised to reward you for your righteousness. “Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.” (Proverbs 11:31)

SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Your flesh, or your old sin nature, is your enemy. It is driven by lusts, and it wants what it wants when it wants it. It never stops trying to get its own way. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like . . . (Galatians 5:19-21)

First Corinthians 13 describes what God’s love is like. Your flesh is the exact opposite of that. Your flesh is: impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, and easily angered. It keeps a record of wrongs, delights in evil, rejoices with lies, never protects, never trusts, never hopes, never perseveres. And it always fails.

If your flesh is running your life, you cannot possibly succeed. You’re closing the door to God’s blessing and his favor.

The only way to overcome your flesh is to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit minute by minute. That is what the Bible calls, walking in the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

All of God’s promises are like contracts. Put your faith to work by doing what God says; and, then you will receive what he’s promised. When you do your part, God will do his part. When you’re keeping the Love commandment, your faith is working because “faith works by love.” The master key to all of the promises of God is loving your neighbor as yourself.

THE PROBLEM IS SIN

Sin is violating the Love Commandment, and it prevents God from blessing you. “Your sins have withholden good things from you.”(Jeremiah 5:25) Love is fulfilling the law. When you’re loving your neighbor, you’re loving God too, because you’re obeying him. You’re expressing your faith in God and his word.

SIN IS BASED ON PRIDE

In my life, I had to face reality. I found out that I was not as smart as I thought. I thought that I could get everything I needed on my own, but I was wrong. I tried running my own life and failed miserably at it. The best decision I ever made was to surrender control of my life to God.

RIGHTEOUSNESS IS BASED ON LOVE

Righteousness is the opposite of sin. It is loving God. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” You know when you’re keeping the Love Commandment, and when you’re not keeping it. If you want this promise of God fulfilled in your life, you have to love your neighbor as yourself.

GOD SHOWS FAVOR TO THE RIGHTEOUS

“For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12 NKJV)

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Here’s What I Was Doing Wrong

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I asked God, “Why are bad things happening to me? What am I doing wrong? And he answered me with the following scripture:

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.

But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-48)

That explains it! That’s what I was doing wrong! I was the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. My spiritual house collapsed because it had no foundation. It could not stand up against the storms of life. It had to fail. It couldn’t do anything else.

God didn’t cause those bad things to happen. I did. I set myself up for failure when I ignored God’s instructions. It was impossible for me to succeed. “Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper?” (2 Chronicles 24:20)

I was calling myself a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. But, I wasn’t following him; I was following me. I was calling Jesus my Lord; but I wasn’t doing a thing he told me to do. I had to give up the control of my life and turn it over to him; and that’s what I did.

I made up my mind, that, for the rest of my life, I would do everything that Jesus told me to do. I turned my back on sin forever, and that’s what the Bible calls “repentance.” Since that time I have made it my habit to follow the Lord’s commandments as recorded in the Bible.

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Making the Committment

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When I was twenty-seven years old, I made the decision, that, for the rest of my life, I was going to follow Jesus, no matter what. I had already received Jesus as my personal Saviour. This decision was to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. It marked the beginning of my friendship and fellowship with the Lord. That relationship has benefited me and my family immeasurably over the past thirty-six years, and I highly recommend it to everyone.

I had heard a very powerful sermon about Elijah and the prophets of  Baal, and I got it. I understood what God was saying. Here’s my version of that message:

You have to decide, once and for all, whose team you want to be on—the devil’s team or God’s team. If you want a choice, then you must choose. Pick a side and stay with it. If you believe that Jesus is God, then follow him. If you don’t believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what you do. Since you’re doomed anyway, you might as well do whatever you please.

If you will make the same decision and the same committment, it will change your life forever. It will show the Lord that you’re serious about him and that you love him. It’s like getting married to him, even if you’re a guy.

When you show the Lord that you love him, he will respond. He will fellowship with you, bless you, and show you favor. The benefits are enormous, spiritual, physical, and material.

Jesus would never say to you, “depart from me, ye that worketh iniquity.  I never knew you.” Because he will know you.

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Are You In or Out?

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The Bible is the word of God. Everything we know about the One True and Living God comes from the Bible. And the whole Bible is about Jesus, both the Old and the New Testaments. Jesus is the living Word of God. The Bible is the written word of God about the living Word of God. If you believe the Bible, you must necessarily believe in Jesus.

Jesus is the physical manifestation of the God of the Bible. All of the other so-called “gods” are nothing but idols. That is why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me.” John 14:6

There are millions of people who give their mental assent to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. But that, in itself, is not enough to save them. It’s too shallow of a form of belief to count as “faith.” They don’t believe it in their hearts, and they don’t know the Lord personally.

They’re going to miss heaven simply because of their ignorance of the Bible. The most important concepts in life are found in the Bible. This is a matter of life and deatheternal life and eternal death.

If you fall into this category, look carefully at what the Bible says about salvation:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10

Don’t forget that salvation is a free gift from God. You don’t have to do anything to earn it or deserve it. All you have to do is to receive it by faith.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 6:23

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Acts 2:38

To “repent” simply means to change your mind and change your direction. To depart from sin and follow Jesus instead of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior and to fill you with the Holy Spirit.

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They Were Astonished At His Doctine

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When James and John left their fishing business and followed Jesus, this is the first thing they noticed about him:

And they were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.  Mark 1:22

What is the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and what is so astonishing about it? Look at what Jesus said about himself:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me that ye might have life.  John 5:39

I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.  John 14:6

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  John 14:1

There are millions of us who believe that these words are true, and that Jesus is the only way to heaven. And there are millions of people who simply will not believe it. They acknowledge the existence of  God. They acknowledge Jesus as an enlightened teacher or prophet. But they refuse to accept the fact that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day which read, “God’s too big for just one religion.” And millions of people believe that this is true. This kind of thinking allows them to design their own religion. It makes sense to people who don’t know anything about the one true God. It seems right.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  Proverbs 14:12

God is a lot smarter than we are. His ways are different than ours. That’s why he is God and we’re not. The smartest thing you will ever do is to align yourself with the One True and Living God. Get into an alliance with him, a covenant relationship, that is only available through his Son Jesus Christ.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

It all comes down to this. Do you believe what God says in the Bible about his Son Jesus, or not? It’s your call.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.  1 Timothy 2:5-6

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