December 1, 2013
Value of Godliness and Promise of Salvation
There are people who live their lives to please themselves and do what they want whenever they want to do it – these people follow their worldly passions (or desires). They think only of what is pleasing to them in the moment without regards to any possible consequences. The world’s values and what is “acceptable” to them changes over the years. What was unacceptable 10-15 years ago is suddenly now acceptable, and vice-verse (what was once acceptable, like the pledge of allegiance at school, is now unacceptable to people). The world constantly changes its viewpoints and gets more corrupt daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. But then there are people who live to please God and commit their lives to his unchanging ways. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. What God said is wrong back in biblical times is still wrong today, no matter who says that something once considered wrong is “okay” and that you have to “change with the times.” Don’t listen to such people! Don’t listen to them when these same people tell you that something God clearly says in the Bible is right is actually wrong and not to do it. What God said is right to do is still right today! Save yourself a headache and lots of confusion in what is right and what is wrong by opening your bible and studying God’s word, gaining understanding of what God is saying through his written word, and then properly applying it to your life without twisting any words around to suit you. If you have a hard time understanding a certain scripture here and there (hopefully you are in a good bible-based church that preaches God’s written word without adding or subtracting from it), then go to your Pastor or minister and ask them what it means so you can apply it the right way to your life.
Those who devote their lives to pleasing God work daily at godliness and the reward for doing this is the salvation of your soul and eternal life in Heaven with God and Jesus and all of God’s other children who accepted Jesus into their hearts, confessed and repented their sins, were baptized in the name of Jesus and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and devoted their lives to serving and pleasing God – including some or most of your loved ones who are no longer here on earth. God’s promise of salvation is for everyone even though not everyone accepts it or wants to hear about it. God tells us in 1 Peter 3:9 that he wants us all to be saved and that’s why he is being so patient with us. God loves every single one of us because he created us all before we were ever born and like any loving father, he wants to be with his children, which is why he wants us too to make it to Heaven after Jesus’ second coming. It breaks God’s heart that many of his children will not make it to Heaven either because they refused to believe, lost faith, were never given God’s word and so never baptized, or they believed and knew what God considered right verses wrong but sinned more than they followed God’s way and did not repent of all of their sins. For whatever reason, not everyone will make it to Heaven, but if you are reading this and fear you may not make it to Heaven, here is some great news for you: It’s not too late! As long as you have breath in you, then you have the ability to consciously decide to believe God exists, repent of your sins, accept Jesus into your hearts and confess him as Lord and Savior (confessing that he died for our sins and was raised to life three days later so we could have a right relationship with God based on faith and is coming back to lift up God’s chosen ones who have been baptized, lived a life pleasing to God and are making it to Heaven), be baptized in the name of Jesus, and give your life to following Jesus’ way of living which is made easier as you take time daily to bible study, understanding what you are reading, and applying it to your life daily. If you have done any of these steps and are only missing one or two then figure out which steps they are and take them in faith!
For those who devote their lives to pleasing God, it is because of the hope of the promise God gives us of salvation and eternal life, and the promises that our lives will transform and change for the better when we live life his way. However, for the people who don’t believe or follow God either because they are unaware he exists or for whatever reason they are denying his existence or angry with him – whatever reason they have for not following God’s ways, they don’t have God’s Holy Spirit living inside of them guiding them and helping them exercise self-control and stop themselves from doing bad things. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, you may be able to temporarily control your physical appetites and stop doing what your body wants you to do or from going after any worldly desires, but it won’t last for very long without the mindset on why to do it. In order to successfully stop yourself from doing things you should not be doing (for example, eating cookies and other unhealthy food every day or frequently), your way of thinking needs to change and that can only happen if you have God’s Spirit living inside of you. When you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you then you can get rid of the desire to do the things you once enjoyed doing or thought were okay to do because God says it’s not okay to do it and your desire to please God is stronger than your desire to obtain the temporary pleasure that you would receive from consuming the cookie or other unhealthy foods or beverages. If you struggle with an addiction to anything, God can help you stop desiring whatever it is (drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or whatever the unhealthy addiction is) by helping you instead to have a passion or desire to do what is pleasing to him and not to do what goes against his will or his ways.
When you stop to think about all God has done (all of his creating, the recorded miracles) and all he has done for you, then you will live in awe and reverence of God and commit your lives to being godly and pleasing God in return for our salvation. You will no longer care what the world thinks and no longer listen when they tell you something is okay to do when God says it isn’t or when they tell you not to do something because it is wrong, because you know God says it is the right thing to do. If you are a child of God, you have the power and ability to do this – to live a life pleasing to God and do what is right in God’s eyes and not do what is wrong in God’s eyes. If you are not yet a child of God (have not been baptized) but believe, or are a newly baptized child of God, and try to follow God’s ways, it is important to surround yourself with godly people who will hold you accountable for your actions or you may eventually slip because someone entices you to do so or because the pull to do so is too strong. If you do know someone who is godly and has encouraged you in your faith, it is important to keep them in your life and not to cut them out of your life for any reason at all when they have done nothing but love you unconditionally and try to help you. If you don’t want to be helped, then sadly no one can help you no matter how hard they try. You have to want to change and get rid of your bad habits and sinful way of life and you have to want help in doing so because you won’t be able to do it by yourself. The first step is the desire to change. The second step is to take the steps needed to be baptized (which were mentioned previously) so that God will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and guide you to do what is right and help make the changes in you that need to occur for you to be made right with God.
Remember that the first step once you realize change is necessary is to believe in God and his word and his promises. The next step is harder (repenting your sins) because that means admitting you have done wrong against God, but if you don’t accept that everyone, including you, is a sinner and refuse to repent, then you cannot make the changes that are required for you to live a better life and will not be able to please God. I admit it that I am a sinner. I continue to make mistakes and fall short of the mark (Jesus – who never sinned). I am constantly confessing my sins to God and asking forgiveness. I also constantly forgive other people who wrong me so that God will forgive my sins. It doesn’t mean I am a bad person because I sin or that you are a bad person because you sin, it just means that sometimes we make bad decisions – which God can help us with and is helping me with already. Once you have been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Spirit, you will be directed in which way to go and which paths to avoid because they lead to sin which leads to death. Make the decision today that if you have not already been baptized as an adult (who made a conscious decision to follow Jesus), to do so as soon as possible and to understand why. Look up Acts 2:38, Galatians 3:26-27, Matthew 28:19-20, John 3 (starting at verse one where Nicodemus asks Jesus about what he meant about “being born again” which means that when you are baptized, you die to your old way of life and are “born again” as a child of God – it’s a spiritual rebirth), and then do a keyword search for “baptism” at www.bible.com (or from your Bible app if you have one on your phone) to look up the remaining verses that explain the importance of baptism and talk to your Pastor or minister about it to gain more understanding too. Being baptized is not the end of it though. You must read your bible daily, seek to understand what you are reading and apply it daily to your life in every area. Prayer and meditation are also important. Prayer allows you to talk to God about what is going on in your mind or in your heart and seek answers or pray for anything else you need and meditation is listening for God’s response and thinking about what you read in your bible study and listening for a still small voice inside to talk to you about how you can apply his word to your life in specific ways.
Are you sick of living life miserable, stressed out, (for some) working yourself to death (working too hard because you feel it is all on you to provide a roof over your head, food to put in your mouth, clothes to wear, and everything else you need plus the things you desire like a car and nice things that other people have), trying to figure things out on your own, and of being in unsteady relationships that never work out (or anything else that is making you miserable or stressed out)? If the answer is yes, then take Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30 to lean on him and give him your burdens in return for rest and the light yoke he gives (which is to follow his ways which are right and lead to eternal life). Some of his commands can be hard to follow – like leaving behind family members or loved ones who are not in the Lord and are unwilling to change their ways, but in return for doing so, he will give you new family members who are in the body of Christ (spiritual family) so you will not be orphaned or alone. You may not have to cut them out of your life completely like his first apostles did (remember some of them left their fathers and their business practices to follow Jesus), but you will have to make the changes necessary to please God and to be made right with him. You will have to stop doing things that go against God’s nature (and will), but in return you will receive all of God’s spiritual blessings including discernment (the ability to judge right from wrong), sound judgment (which comes from seeking God and God’s wisdom daily and daily bible study and application and helps you make better decisions), godliness, peace of mind and heart, and eternal life, just to name a few of God’s spiritual blessings available to his children. The children of God who walk in his ways will also have the benefit of having their needs (roof over their head, food to eat, water to drink, clothes to wear) met and when they tap into the talents and creativity God gave them and work their dream job (what God put in their hearts to want to do and gave a passion and ability to do), then they are able to afford other things too like a car and a house (at some point in their lives). It won’t happen overnight, these changes, but over a period of time that nobody but God can predict the when in any particular person’s life. Do you want your relationships (along with financial situation) to improve? Do you want a better relationship with God? For those of you not in the body of Christ yet, becoming a member and following God’s ways will help improve your relationships in life and help you get in a right relationship with God. For those in the body of Christ, there is always room to strengthen and deepen your relationship with God by continuing to do daily bible study and application and keeping God first in every single area of your life.
How is all of this possible? A better life is made possible by God’s grace. The apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God loves us and wants a right relationship with us. The rewards for seeking a right relationship with God and living to please him far outweigh the alternative of living for to follow your own desires instead of God’s and the misery that ensues when you do so because you are living your life cut off from God. God doesn’t want or enjoy being cut off from us but he is unable to be around sin because he is holy and without sin. Because God is holy, we must be holy. We can do this by refraining from sinning (willfully) and repenting when we do mess up and asking forgiveness, and by forgiving others’ sins against you. Do you want eternal life? Is it your life goal to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If you haven’t thought about it now is a good time to think about it. Eternal life without pain, sickness, loss or grief, no separations of any kind, no anxiety or stress, no difficult situations and where Jesus wipes away all of your tears and you experience peace, love, joy, faith, and hope forever in the presence of God and Jesus – these are the things eternal life offers, along with a new body that is more like Christ and without any pain, illness or any other imperfections of the human body. It seems crazy to me and to many other believers that once people hear about this alternative way of life (eternal life in Heaven), that they willfully choose to keep sinning and doing what they want to do instead of turning their hearts to God and following his way of life. The alternative is eternity with new bodies that will be made to endure eternal torture in Hell. To me, the choice is obvious – I want eternal life with my Lord and Savior and be reunited with my loved ones who have either already passed away or will at some point before me (the ones who will make it to Heaven anyway). If there is someone in your life you love very much and cannot imagine life without, then make it your job to bring them to Jesus. Don’t force Jesus on them, but open the door by inviting them to talk about him or about God to you and let the way you live your life show them the benefits of being a child of God while you are still here on earth. When a child of God is able to bring another soul to Jesus and be saved, you can be sure the person that led them to Jesus will be rewarded (Apostle James tells us this in James 5:19-20). He also tells us this will bring forth the forgiveness of many sins and I don’t think he meant just for the nonbeliever brought to God and turned into a true believer, but also the person who brought the person back from wandering from God’s ways – or if they were never a child of God, for bringing the person to God. To the potential believers and believers who have not yet been baptized: are you ready to take the next step to become a child of God today? To true believers who have already been baptized: Do you want a better, deeper relationship with God or know someone who needs a right relationship with God? Now is the time to make sure you are right with God. Work on your life first and then when God places an opportunity for you to bring someone new (whether a loved one or a stranger, or an enemy) to God, then take it and you will know what to say or do because God will guide you on how it can be done for the particular person that he is opening the door for you to bring to him. Seek first the Kingdom of God and to live righteously (like Jesus tells us to in Matthew 6:33) and work on your godliness and watch your life get better. Your relationships will be restored or you will meet new people whom you will have a healthy relationship with (or both), your finances will improve over time, your health will improve – all areas of your life will become better. But it is important not to let these blessings become more important than the One who gave them to you (God). You are to keep God first in your life in every area, from this day forward for the rest of your days here on earth. With all God offers us, promises us, and gives to us and with all God has already done for us, he deserves to be the center of your life. If you agree that God is Awesome and has done mighty deeds for you and blessed you richly at some point in your life then it should be easy to praise him and thank him daily and one way to thank him (along with in prayer) is to live a life pleasing to him. For those of you who may have missed it, the value of godliness is the promise of salvation – your reward of eternal life. May God be with all of you who are reading this and may he richly bless you, in Jesus’ name.