The power to choose

posted Aug 10, 2017, 11:59 PM by Mark Lein

My wife and I have been watching a YouTube video series regarding end time prophecy and it revolves around the theory that September 23, 2017 will be when Christ raptures the church and the Antichrist is revealed to the world. I'm not 100% sold on the theory but it did get me thinking about a couple of things:

1. If I did only have 43 days left on Earth, how should I spend it, what would I want to focus on for that time?

2. How it must pain God how so many people have no desire to follow His will but would rather follow Satan's will. How many millions or billions of people are not going to be raptured and even after that, they will move even further away from God.

The Bible makes it pretty clear that we are to tell the world about Jesus, what He did for us on the cross and how that affects our eternity. At the least, this theory is a good reminder to step up our evangelizing. If you’re anything like me, there are people that you know you need to talk to but you’ve put it off as “there’s always time”. Turns out that there might not be much time left at all.

One of the most famous verses in the Bible - John 3:16 - starts with “For God so loved the world” that verse is talking about all of the people on the face of the world, every single one. God loves us all with a perfect kind of love.

John 3:16 continues to say “that He gave up his only son” which is talking about Jesus being a sacrifice for us. God willingly gave His son, Jesus, over to the world so that the world could murder Him.

The verse finishes up with “so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” So if you believe that Jesus is who the Bible says He is (The son of God, God in the flesh, the only gateway to Heaven, etc) and if you are willing to let Him rule your life then you will get to live in Heaven forever.

That being said, the Bible tells us that there will be many more people going to Hell than Heaven. There’s a popular analogy of the road to Hell being a freeway and the road to Heaven being a dirt path. I don’t know how accurate it is but i’m guessing it’s pretty close. Regardless, it pains God to see even one of His children reject Him but He has made it so that we must choose our fate. We decide our eternity and that can be seen as both a privilege and a curse.

To sum up, it doesn't matter if you believe that September 23rd is the day or not. What matters is that you know that Jesus is coming back at some point soon and that He wants us to show the world who He is, what He did and how much He loves each and every one of us.

I pray that you will chose Him.

Phileo, phileo, phileo.

posted Jun 20, 2016, 9:42 PM by Mark Lein

Today I was watching a bible study by Matt Chandler and it was on Philippians. I can't remember how now, but he also got into John 21:15–17. He mentioned how when Jesus asked Peter the first two times if he loved Him, using the word agape which is a sacrificial, decision-based love, Peter replied affirmatively using the word phileo which is a brotherly type or a friendship type of love. The third time when Jesus asked if Peter loved Him, He too used the word phileo and Peter replied with the same word. 

 This was the first time I’d heard that they were talking about different types of love in that discussion. What really struck me was that it seems that Peter was admitting his own limitation. Jesus was asking "do you love me with a sacrificial type of love?" and Peter was replying with a "No but I do love you with a friend type of love." Now granted, I wasn't there and don't know for sure but I've said the exact same thing to Jesus. I've said that I want to love Jesus with an agape kind of love but I can only admit to loving Him with a friendship kind of love.

 I found it uplifting in that Peter came from there, from being strongly rebuked by Jesus and from denying Jesus three times to being the rock that Jesus would build His church upon and that the gates of hell would not overcome it. It gives me hope that I too shall be much, much stronger in my faith and closer to Jesus one day.

 And that brings me back to Philippians with the end of Philippians 1:6 - He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit is at work in all of us and He will continue to perfect us every day, every minute even! For that I am eternally grateful to God.

Agape, it's all about agape

posted May 8, 2016, 10:46 PM by Mark Lein

Tonight my wife and I watched a marriage video by Jimmy Evans, it's called "The Indestructible Marriage". In it he was talking about the different words for love in the Bible. The one he focused on was agape love. This is the type of love that God has for us and the type of love that He calls us to have for Him and for others. What really struck me was how Jimmy described agape love as not being based on emotion or feeling but instead it was a decision or choice.

For a long time I was feeling lacking as I couldn't force myself to love God. I wanted to but I just couldn't bring myself to do it as I thought it was an emotional type of love. Agape changes that completely. I can (and have many times) choose to love God. I can make that decision daily with no problem.

It reminds me a lot of Joshua 24:15 where Joshua says "...choose for yourselves today whom you will serve..." Again, it comes down to choice or a decision. Funny how that is often the case with God. He gave us free will and He expects us to use it.

I feel silly having been a Christian this long without knowing this rather important piece of information but i'm eternally grateful that I know it now and look forward to all the other things i'll learn about God.

So today, once again, I echo Joshua's words - but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

My life, directed by God

posted Jan 6, 2016, 10:34 PM by Mark Lein

I really enjoy my 45 minute drive into work some days. Today was one of those days. I was driving into work and God brought to my attention a few instances of how, despite the plans i've made, He is the one who obviously directs my steps (Proverbs 16:9). Needless to say, His plans for my life are much better than my own plans (Isaiah 55:9)

I'm so grateful that God is the One in charge as He, and He alone, knows the entire big picture and He loves me perfectly. Those two facts combine to ensure that as long as I listen for His voice and follow His will, I will live a life that both pleases Him and is successful in the only way that matters,

Then I got to thinking about how i've also experienced His grace in that while I wasn't listening for His voice, following His will and even went against His will, He still used my bad choices for good (Genesis 50:20). God knew what bad choices i'd make, what situations those choices would get me in and He not only used them for good but also did it in a way that I would recognize if and when I thought about it.

Thank you Lord for taking care of me, for loving me and for working through my life!

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