Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Truth or Dare: Realizing the Love of Christ

Satan sinned against God, and his
payment was death. Now he's paying you the
same wages for your sins, so don't work for
Satan! But Christ offers no wages,
he offers you the free Gift of Life.
No work or experience necessary!
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The wages of sin is death, everyone knows this to a degree... but how many know that the wages of Christianity is eternal life? If we pretend for a moment that Christianity is wrong and Christ never existed as a God, then if you believe in Christ no harm can come to you since it's hypothetically "fake," however if Christianity is true and Christ did come to Earth then you wager your immortal soul for your sinful life. So to believe in Christ is free of charge, but to follow sin is eternal damnation.
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23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
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Wages... wages are payments for work. A life of sin (=work) pays people in flesh (=wages) since sins demand satiation of earthly desires, but Christ's wages (payments) are eternal love and freedom of sin in heaven, where believing in him simply gets you heavenly rewards and earthly blessings (and these blessings don't poison your body or heart!) For example, for all men who are reading...when you see a gorgeous woman on the beach walk by, do you not often get that "man, I wish she wanted me" type of thought run through your head? That's called lust, but you knew that already. But did you know that lust is a sin of the flesh which pays according to its nature-- sex? However, as you probably know on a less conscious level, when it comes to sex you can never be happy with having it once. What I mean is, even if you got your wish and the beautiful lady suddenly wanted to sleep with you, it'd never be enough. For most men it'd only take a few hours until more sex cravings would kick in, and the cravings would only be stronger later on. This is an example of a sin-wage scenario: you satiated your body (sin-work), and so your body pays you back by demanding more sex (sin-wages). More wages naturally demand more work and more wages means more sexual desire. This comes from the idea of a high paying job, for all high paying jobs have a very high amount of work that needs to be done, why else would they pay you so much otherwise? Sin works in this fashion. It is a consuming, demanding phenomenon.
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The article below speaks loud and clear on this. I enjoyed its relaxed speaking voice. None of the fire and brimstone preaching. Just straight truth told from a normal person.

The wages of sin is death, but there are no penalties
for believing in Christ. Believing in Christ is a
free gift that Christ gives to all for his death on
the cross. A true gift. But to follow sin
is to work for Satan, for his pays you back with
death. Which do you want? A gift of life or death?
Is life worth all this trouble? Fighting sin is hard! It's a never-ending struggle that cannot be won until you die. Fighting sin is akin to a series of battles being fought for short periods of time every day. The battles are often lost, but the victory is assured for you are in Christ. He's your ace of spades. You will lose almost all of your battles against sin, but Christ assures your victory! But again, life is so long and these battles just wear Christians out. It's so hard to keep trudging on. Sometimes life just seems too long to keep fighting battles like these for decades.
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James talks about how short our lives are though, and while 80 years or so seems like a very long time to humans, it's not very long at all. The more time you have to live on simply means the more time you have to store up heavenly treasures. All of those battles are paid back to you! Every time you fight on in Christ's name you are given heavenly rewards, and there are plenty of earthly rewards too. But life is not nearly as long as it may seem...
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"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
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Human life is so short, but not in Christ. Our lives continue beyond our physical forms when we die in Christ, for we live on with him in heaven. As an example of our lives being so brief, take a moment to remember the conversations you had with your parents and grandparents-- truly hear them, for they might say how their lives just seem like a flash. When they speak to old friends or about old memories, you'll probably notice how at one moment they remember being in high school pulling pranks with friends or they might remember just getting married or their first date, and then they might jump ahead to something similar decades later as if it were yesterday!
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When older people speak there usually seems to be a sense of loss or nostalgia for "the good ol' days," a feeling as if their whole time on Earth was a blur. Where did time go? This is life for the sinner, for we were never created as finite beings who live and die, but rather we were created as infinite beings that live with God on Earth forever. Sin changed all of that, though. Time was never supposed to have a grip on us, but due to Adam and Eve's sin, time now stands to conquer us (old age, enfeeblement). So what will you say in 20 or 30 years when you look back at your life and see only a blur of faded memories? Will it be a life to fill you and others with pride and joy? Will the Lord smile at you? Are you storing up heavenly treasures for when you die, or do you pursue sin as if it's the only thing that makes you happy? The world has no use for people beyond a certain age nor for people who stand against sin, for the world is in a world of sin, so to speak. To be a Christian is to fight the good fight of good over evil, both in your heart and on our earthly battlefield (with the Gospel). And Christ will value you always, not only when you are bright and vibrant and can be helpful at your job or to your kids or to earn more money or to become successful-- he will love you and guide you and cherish you all the days of your life, but you must fight sin. You cannot store up sin wages and Christ's love, since they stand opposed.
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20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
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Living is not about living... yes that is an odd way to put things, but it's very true. To live is to die, but to live in Christ is to be immortal. Do not fear for your body when it grows near to death, for your spirit is all that matters, for the spirit is eternal. Sadly, I hear many people talking as though Christianity were some cult or a large group of funny people from the funny farm. But they simply don't understand... their hearts were never open to the possibility of the gospel. If only a person would choose to try all things in life with an open mind, but people are not like that. People know what they know and leave it at that, but their wisdom betrays them, for it says:
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26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
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So if human wisdom and human plans and human desires are what lead us to these negative feelings when life does not pan out as we want or expect it to, how then can anyone ever live a life that is always fulfilling? Well, to answer that, I will first say that humans need God. We have a deep need to know we're not alone and to know that our Creator really does pay attention to our lives, for how many people realize just how involved God is in human affairs? First off, I can state the obvious by saying that God himself chose to be borne by a human woman to become a man on Earth. He lived a humble life-- a life without any real home to lay his head and he worked as a carpenter, one of the hardest jobs in the world. And to top it off, he never had any money. And finally, when he was about 32 years old or so he went out into the world to proclaim his divinity and become the prophesied Jewish Messiah, called Christ. He spread words of heavenly wisdom, gained believers, and was rejected by most people. His life of hard work, being moneyless and even homeless was topped only by being flogged, whipped, beaten, and then nailed to a cross by hateful people of the world (as in, worldly people who reject religion). After being flogged 39 times and savagely beaten, he was nailed to the cross, where large nails much like railroad nails were hammered into his hands, where he hung on a cross for 6 hours until he died. What a horrible death! And yet, some of his last words were
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34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
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To demonstrate God's timeless care and attention to all of us, read below, for it says God records our every tear, and in God we should never fear anything, for what can any human or worldly problem ever do to us? Neither losing your job nor dying nor anything else can harm you in the afterlife. This is what the term "worldly" means in actuality, for to be of the world is to be concerned with death, jobs, fears of other humans, plans that fall through and so on. If a single problem exists in your mind that cannot exist in heaven, then it's a worldly problem and you should simply pray about it and then let it go. God will take care of it. We are here only to choose God. There's no other purpose to existence, for no job or money or wife or anything is able to follow us into heaven-- only love and faith in God comes with us to heaven! So anything that bothers you...anything at all that you realize would not exist in heaven, as a Christian you can let it go. It matters so little in the long run. We are here to love and be loved, but most people don't realize the overwhelming love God has for us. Overwhelming is a light way to describe the all-encompassing love he has for us, for it says:
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Psalm 56:3-11
3 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
5 All day long they twist my words;
all their schemes are for my ruin.
6 They conspire, they lurk,
they watch my steps,
hoping to take my life.
7 Because of their wickedness do not[c] let them escape;
in your anger, God, bring the nations down.

8 Record my misery;
list my tears on your scroll[d]
are they not in your record?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can man do to me?

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If you read these few verses and did not fully realize what was being said, I'm happy to tell you some about it. God literally records our every sorrow, our every tear, our every word and so on. God is far beyond attentive-- he is with us always, and in fact he is omnipresent (in all places at all times!). He hears you cry at night, he sees your every struggle in life, and he hears your every thought. In fact, he knows how many hairs are in your head!
Luke 12:6-7
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
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Most people these days see all the sin and sadness in the world and believe that no god could exist or create such a world. But remember, humans are all given free will, even the ability to do evil. For a short time, all humans are allowed to be as Christ-loving or evil as they choose to be, but this is for a short time, for the end times are near. The world has reached a climax with its evil, where all people seem to all dwell on evil and selfish gain all of the time. Even Christians are often not at all Christian, for they are only Christian in name but never worship Christ (that is, read the Bible, pray to Christ and try to live a half-decent life). Christians these days gamble, fornicate, swear, practice homosexuality, lie, covet, get drunk, and steal as non-Christians do. They abuse Christ's forgiveness (we all do to a degree, but there's a sense of regret that true Christians have that fake Christians do not have, where the regret forces a real Christian to try to become less sinful and have more faith in God). Being a Christian these days has no meaning.
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But non-Christians and fake Christians are missing out on so much love, fearlessness, and eternal life in Christ in heaven that real Christians are guaranteed simply by having faith in Christ. That's about it-- have faith in Christ (accept him and try to trust his words in the Bible) and the rest takes care of itself. It's that easy, and the rewards are life in heaven with God, but the wages of sin is death. Fake Christians will die with the non-Christians, for they reject Christ's love and so Christ rejects them. Hell is forever, just as life with God is forever, and Earth is nothing more than a stage in which we are allowed to choose God or choose sin. There is no other purpose to life except to make a choice: God or sin. That's it. And no one can be happy or feel fulfilled unless they choose Christ, for though we may enjoy our sin, it never fills us... we need it constantly.

Jesus loves all the little children,
but in his eyes all humans are children...
We are all his children
We can't just have sex once; we need to do it all of the time. We can't be happy with partying one weekend; we have to party every weekend. We can't be happy with our new TV. After a couple years, for the new TV's make your older TV. seem like junk and you can no longer appreciate it. We can't just be happy with what we have, for even our cars lose their luster and we'll want a new one eventually, or a new hair style or hair color or a new wardrobe or to redecorate our home again or getting all blu-rays instead of DVD’s or the latest Call of Duty game or whatever else you can think of. Sin-- wanting what you don't have, vanity, lust, partying, gossiping, or any "thing" that stands against Christ demands full loyalty. All desires consume people, all sins consume people, anything outside of Christ enslaves a person's heart to whatever its nature is (lust, thrill-seeking, anything), and those sins only get larger as we try to fill them.
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Humans are never satisfied with what they have, for as the expression goes, the grass is always greener on the other side, for even after you cross over to the other side and see that the grass is the same color, the side from which you just came from now seems greener. If you thought that great job after college was going to make you happy, you were wrong, for in a couple years it will become dry and repetitive as you go through the same routine each day. Nothing on Earth is ever enough, except for Christ. He stops those desires from grabbing us as they do, for without Christ we were slaves to our ever-growing desires, Christians become slaves to Christ. And where we had once placed our desires Christ now occupies that area of our heart and subdues all worldly concerns. For it says:
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Philippians 3:8
8 What is more, I consider [my possessions] a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
Jesus loves all the sinners in the
world. He even died for them. The
price of freeing us from sin came
at the cost of his life. Because of
him, that gift is freely given to all
that we may never die but
have eternal life in him.

I will end with my favorite Bible verses, for the following Psalm gives me great peace and comfort, for it shows that God is a mighty God, capable of stomping nations under his heal but also caring and loving to those who love him. God wants our love. Just as we seek love and affection from other humans...I assure you God wants to be loved by you more than any human on Earth. It must truly be lonely being God, for having all power in the universe and being all alone as the only God with no equals. So God needs us, and he rewards us greatly with love, affection, careful attention, and protection, and lastly a place in heaven next to him forever, but God will never force you to choose him. He does not want robotic love or fake love- he's given us the ability to choose him.
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I dare you to test the Lord. Try to see if the Lord is listening to you. Pray to him. Read your Bible and pray. Give it time and you will see that the Lord is alive and real. Very real. I dare you to heed Christ, the Light of Truth. Discover for yourself the majesty of the Lord. Revel in his blessings and wisdom. Become courageous and fearless with the knowledge that no matter how awful life is, your every tear is recorded by a caring God. Do not be afraid. You have nothing to lose, for if Christ is not real then you will lose nothing, but the wages of sin is death if Christ is real, so you have everything to lose if you take a chance and he turns out to be real. Christ is worth the chance. You will see.
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Psalm 27
1 The LORD is my light and my salvationwhom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the LORD,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;

you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Amen!

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