Do All Dogs Go to Heaven?

a9059d-lgLosing a dog is almost as painful as losing a family member especially when you had one for a long time. We develop a strong emotional connection with our canine. Our dogs love us unconditionally when treated right. For many of us, there would be a significant void in life if there were no dogs.

The Bible states that God created land animals on the sixth day of creation. Adam, the first man, was also created on the sixth day. After the sixth day, the creation was complete, and God pronounced it very good. Clearly, the Lord had a purpose in creating animals, and it was for the good of man and His creation. This certainly would include our beloved canines.

According to the Bible, Jesus Christ will come back to rule and reign on the earth for a thousand years. The prophet Isaiah proclaims that during that time of unprecedented peace, “The wolf shall also dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together… “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain.” (Isa 11:6) Animals will revert to grass eaters and will no longer prey on one another. That was God’s initial design before the disobedient action of Adam and Eve. (Gen 1:30) And since God is bringing this world full circle when He will create “new heavens and a new earth.” (Isa 65:17), it seems logical to conclude that part of a new creation will include animals. Whether the animals will be the same ones that were here on earth is not clear. Hypothetically, God certainly could recreate the same personalities in the animals that were here during your life. The only exceptions would be that they will not get sick, die, or act in a mean way toward any other living being.

More importantly, though, will YOU go to heaven? Some believe that they can merit points with God by doing more good than bad. Others believe that they are good in comparison to other people. Some religions will tell you that you must go to church, take communion, and be baptized to enter heaven.

However, according to the Bible, none of these roads will get YOU there. First of all, in comparison to God who is perfect, the Bible says that “there is none righteous, no not one.” (Rom 3:10) The Bible also teaches that the heart (The inner control center made up of mind, will, and emotions) of man “is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” (Jer 17:9) Even a little child figures out how to lie early in life and will take things from others that are not his/hers. That’s why children must be taught to do the right thing. They figure out how to do the wrong things all by themselves.

We all have a sin problem. To sin is to break God’s moral commands. Have you ever told a lie? Did you ever steal anything regardless of value? Have you ever lusted in your heart after another person? Have you ever been drunk or high? Have you ever hated anyone? You get the point. The truth is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) And “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23) Sin brought physical death as well as spiritual death. If a person physically dies without having their sins taken away, then that person goes into eternity separated from God in a place of torment that the Bible calls hell.

BUT, the good news is that you can have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life by putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus came in the flesh – fully God and fully man. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, and He was buried, and rose again the third day.” (1 Cor 15:3, 4) He came so that your sins could be forgiven and that you can have life…spiritual life, eternal life, and a relationship with God. If you genuinely trust in Christ as the Son of God, believing that He died on the cross for your sin, that He was buried, and that He rose bodily on the third day, then you can be assured that He will save you from the penalty of your sins and give you eternal life. You can get to heaven because God provided the way through His Son. Why not put your faith and trust in Him today?

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The Shower

man-showerWhen I stepped into the shower earlier this evening, it sure felt good. You know how sometimes that water just brings a spontaneous sigh of relief? Physically I’ve been battling an upper respiratory infection. Emotionally I’ve been carrying some pretty heavy burdens. Spiritually I’ve been wandering about in a self-created arid place. That is no doubt what made me utter, “Wash it all away, Lord.”

Of course, the water from our well is in no way able to “wash it all away.” Yeah it eased some of the physical discomforts, and that gave a small boost to the emotions, but my actual need is common to all. We need to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb 10:22)

We must come to Jesus to be healed or receive the grace to endure. We must come to Jesus to be relieved of our burdens or receive the help to carry them. We must come to Jesus to be washed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. For He invites us to “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

The next time you step into the shower and the hot water begins its cleansing work, think of the ultimate washing done on your behalf. Consider “Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Rev 1:5b)

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Who Do You Trust?

14a01c71adae6668407f3d0c057659fb“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.” Psalm 118:8-9

Where do you fall in the preceding verses? We know that our Creator intended us to be God-dependent creatures. Instead, our first parents chose independence and here we are. Trust in ourselves (man) comes quite naturally to us. How has that worked out in our world? Perhaps the Lord is on to something when He continually calls us to trust Him, to be God-dependent.

How do we change the object of our trust? First, “he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6) We then engage with Him in the Word and learn His wisdom, His will, and His ways. In these, we will come to the desire to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6) Yes, the Lord will lead us by His Word and by His Spirit. Are we willing?

You might be one who puts your confidence in princes. In Biblical times the nation of Israel would forsake God and go their own way. When the inevitable consequences came knocking at the door, the people expected their king to deliver them. Or sometimes even foreign pagan nations would be summoned for help. They would put their trust in government.

Since the cultural revolution in 1960’s, our country has witnessed a steady march away from trusting in the Lord to an almost maniacal, even worshipful confidence in princes. As God has become ever smaller, in the hearts of the people, the government has grown exponentially. And so many are too deceived to recognize such. But then, the surest and most destructive fact about deception is that it is so deceiving.

Who do you trust?

I can tell you this:
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea, and all that is in them;
Who keeps truth forever,
Who executes justice for the oppressed,
Who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind;
The LORD raises those who are bowed down;
The LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers;
He relieves the fatherless and widow;
But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
The LORD shall reign forever—
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD! (Psalm 146:5-10)

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Therefore…

imgvideodocAt Bible study last week it was brought up that sometimes we read the Scriptures, but we often overlook the meaning of words. For this reason, we fail to comprehend the full meaning of the passage.

One of those particular words, I believe, is the word, therefore. The meaning of therefore is, ‘as a result of this’. It is used many, many times in the Bible. For example, the first use of the word is in Genesis 2:24. God had taken a rib from Adam and made Eve and brought her to Adam. Therefore (as a result of this), a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. Based upon God’s creative act of making woman from the side of man, one man, and one woman is to respond by being joined together as a result of what God did.

In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (12:1) In the preceding chapters, he spelled out the mercy that God has shown to both Jews and Gentiles. The book of Romans states that all have sinned and are deserving of the wrath of God. But God provided the way to be reconciled to Him, and that is through the death of His Son, Jesus. (5:9) We are free from wrath through Him. We are set free from sin. (6:22) We have the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (6:23) There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (8:1) Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (8:37) And whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (10:13)

Therefore (as a result of the provision of God for our forgiveness), present your bodies a living sacrifice. A sacrifice is the offering of the life of a person or animal. Here it is the picture of a life being offered to God, not in death but in living. It is a life dedicated to serving God as a result of what God has done for you. Have you dedicated your life to God as your reasonable service? If you haven’t won’t you consider responding to God today? If you have but have gotten off track, just confess that to Him and get back on the track – not at the beginning of the journey but the place of the derailment. For “God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Cor 1:9)

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How do you know?

istock_000015742269medium“But how do you know Jesus is the only way to God? But how do you know the Bible is right? But how do you know God authored the Bible? But how do you know you’re right?”

Have you ever been on the receiving end of such questions? I recall having a relative and then shortly after a co-worker giving me the third degree – which, by the way, I loved and indeed welcomed. One advantage I do have (I don’t have many) is I used to ask the very same questions. As people say, “Been there, done that.” So I am rarely caught off guard by a query nor do I get frustrated. I’m just thrilled the questions are asked, and the bottom lines about life explored.

Neither my relative nor my co-worker gave their lives to Christ after talking with me. The family member promised more questions in the future. The co-worker took some reading material I provided and never brought the subject up again. Did I fail?

Did the people I quizzed thirty years ago when those questions were mine fail when they saw no apparent results in me? Well, here I am, and they did not fail. Even though I debated and doubted and seemingly dismissed their answers, the certitude and conviction they had about Jesus Christ left me no room for permanent retreat. As we wrote about last time – eventually I had to “Come and see.” I hope and pray my family member and friend at work do the same. And if and when they do, I hope and pray they stay.

By the way, those questions above and others like them that people ask Christians (we who come, see and stay) – just how do you know? Is it because you went to church all your life? Is it because your grandma told you or a friend at work? Those are all great ways to get someone to come and see, but what makes one stay? Where do your certainty and conviction come from concerning the things of God – even the deep things of God?

The Apostle Paul tells us how we know: “God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” (1 Cor 2:10-12)

Jesus says that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws them. (John 6:44) And there alone is found life now and forever. We who have been drawn and have come and seen and have stayed speak the things of God to others: “…not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (1 Cor 2:13)

And verse 14 assures us that the natural man doesn’t get it because he or she lacks spiritual discernment: hence, the thousand – “How do you knows?” And hence people that are being drawn by the Father to the Son are brought to us or us to them so they too can be taught the things of God.

How do you know? Good question(s).

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“Come and see.”

come-and-see-1092733_960x368John the Baptist said to two of his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God” as Jesus walked by them. Such wondrous words coming from the Baptist inspired the two men to follow after this Lamb. Jesus asked them what they sought. “Where are You staying?” they replied. He said to them, “Come and see.”

The text (John 1:35-50) tells us they spent the evening abiding with Jesus. “One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.” Andrew made a beeline to his brother and declared, “We have found the Messiah.” And he brought Peter to Jesus. I can just see Andrew tugging on Peter’s arm and hear him pleading, “Come and see!”

The very next day Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Philip did just that and then made a beeline for his friend Nathanael. “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael scoffed, “Nazareth, that one-horse-town if ever there was one, producing the Christ?” (Paraphrased) Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see.”

Moses in the law, the prophets, John the Baptist and all of the Scripture proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth is “the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ).” Such wondrous testimony coming from these Spirit-filled men of God should inspire us to follow after Him. Are you and I seeking to be where He is? Have we responded to His invitation to “Come and see?” Having come and seen, are we abiding with Him?

If the answer is no, for what do we wait? If it is yes, how can we not make a beeline to our Peter’s, our Nathanael’s, and everyone God brings to us and witness to them: “We have found the Messiah! Come and see!”

“Come and see.”

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Which Camp?

32175fd8fef169bb84d5e1d44c5ffdcd“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Mankind believes two lies. The adherents to each of these falsehoods tend to gather in two camps. One camp is populated by those described in Romans, chapter 1:18-32. These deny the true and Triune God and in turn, seek to be their own god. The inevitable then occurs as the base nature drags them downward into the dregs. God responds in love by permitting their sink to the bottom of the barrel. Hopefully, flat on the back, they will look up and cry out. This is the only way such can be saved.

The other camp has always been home to a much larger populace. As described in Romans, chapter 2, these people acknowledge God and in turn, seek to appease God. With great zeal they engage in religious activities thought to be an acceptable means of reconciling and relating to the Creator. If enough good is done to outweigh the bad, the Lord must respect the tipping scales. But the very laws which they attempt to keep must be maintained entirely according to the great Lawgiver. The scale only tilts against them. God responds in love by permitting their abject brokenness upon the hard surface of the Law. Hopefully, flat on their back, they will look up and cry out. This is the only way such can be saved.

In the third chapter of Romans, those who seek to be God and those who strive to appease God are thrown into one camp. All have sinned. “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no not one.” (3:10-12) Neither the irreligious or the religious seeks after God on His terms. Reconciling and relating to God is found only “…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (3:24b)

Thus, we again, have two camps – those who live outside of Christ and those who live in Christ. In which camp do you reside?

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