Heaven Or Hell, You Choose

“Painting by John Lawton, Edmond, OK”image

THANK YOU to my friend John Lawton. John, as always your art is very evocative. Maybe you will consent to illustrate my book?👌

The debate has raged for centuries. Heaven and Hell; do they exist? Heaven OR Hell; where do we end up after our bodies breathe their last? As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe in both. I know they exist, because God has described them in great detail for us.

     “Then I saw a  Great White Throne and Him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and there was no place for them.
     And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
     The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
     Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
     ANYONE whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:11‭-‬15 NIV

I don’t know what you want or believe, but I know I don’t want to be in a lake of fire for eternity! What is the alternative? Read on….

     “Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
     And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and GOD Himself will be with them and be their GOD. He will wipe EVERY tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” 
     He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these Words are trustworthy and true.”
     He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the Spring of the Water of Life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their GOD and they will be My children.
     But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:1‭-‬8 NIV (All scriptures are from the Bible app, http://bible.com)

Makes it easy for me. I choose Jesus, and eternity with Him in a Glorious new world. YOUR choice, eternity in a place of such incredible beauty that it cannot be described in any words we mortals can understand, or the place of such horror that we cannot imagine it?

Peace be with you…

Memorial Day, a.k.a. Decoration Day, May 29, 2016. Remembering the veterans and first responders who have gone before us, we should also be thanking the ones who are still with us, enabling us to live in a free America. Without all of them, and the daily sacrifices they have made and still make, there would be no peace for Christians. Two people have died for me – Jesus Christ and the American soldier.

Do you believe it, or are you like Thomas? After Jesus died, He went the house where some of His disciples were gathering, and was there with them for awhile. Thomas wasn’t there at the time, and he struggled to believe that the man he had followed for 3 years had risen from the dead.

“A week later His disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it into My side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My LORD and my GOD!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of GOD, and that by believing you may have Life in His Name.” – John 20:26‭-‬29‭,‬31 NIV
http://bible.com/111/jhn.20.26-31.NIV

Can you say that you have that Peace that only Jesus can provide?

Disciplined!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11 NIV

Truth.

Who likes to be disciplined? Certainly not me! Growing up,  I was a pretty good kid. I think my Dad spanked a couple times, but far worse than any physical punishment was knowing that I had disappointed him and my Mom. (Still does!) After I left home for college, I was far enough away that I couldn’t see their disapproval of my lifestyle…. but the knowledge that they would if they knew how I was living was always in the back of my mind. Knowing that GOD disapproved was there, too, so I partied harder to drown it out. You know, having so much fun I couldn’t feel how miserable I was.

That works, but only to a point. I finally found a man who was like me. I had known him for years, and we decided we were better together than separate. He prayed and went to church on Sundays, we worked hard during the week, and we partied hard on the weekends. A bit of a dichotomy, but it was working for us – or so we liked to believe. After a couple of years of this, we realized it really wasn’t working very well, so we made some changes. Side note: It’s not easy to change when the people you are around are still modeling the old behavior! It was hard to say goodbye to our friends  who were still caught up in those behaviors, but necessary. We found godly friends in a little church we began attending, and our life was good. God was back.

I talked about Job and his trials in an earlier post. Well, over the course of the next few years, our lives became much like Job’s. We had been rather successful in business and were living well. My stepson decided to act out, and made the decision at the age of 16 to strike out on his own since we wouldn’t accept his behavior at home. I hurt myself at work, and was let go from a job I loved and was well paid for. Without my salary, things weren’t as good financially, and I was unable to go back to work for months. Over a period of the next several years, my husband became ill, we lost our businesses and our home, and had to rely on God because there wasn’t anything else. God blessed us with a church full of people who loved us and helped us when we couldn’t help ourselves. Life was good in spite of the pain. We determined after much prayer and deliberation that we would work toward another business. We researched and looked for the right place throughout Arizona and New Mexico… and ended up back in Oklahoma!

Another church body of wonderful Christians was waiting for us, and we began our B&B adventure. It was amazing, and we were able to minister to the people who came. My husband again became ill, only this time it was affecting his brain, too, and we had to let the business and property go. I thought we could get through this together like we had all of the other trials, but the man I had loved and married became an abusive, violent stranger. I had to leave.

I didn’t want to leave, but for my own safety I had no choice. I left my friends and my church family, too. I made plenty of bad choices over the next few years. I was mad at God, and stayed mad for a number of years. God still watched over me, but His discipline can be painful! Finally, I fully realized that I could not do it on my own. Letting go and letting God take control is not easy, but He will bless you mightily if you do. Think about it.

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ONE Sacrifice

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ONE sacrifice. One, for ALL sin; for ALL time; for anyone who comes to Him and confesses their sins. We don’t need a priest to make a blood sacrifice, and we don’t need to receive absolution from any man on earth. It has been done and is complete.

     “For by ONE sacrifice He has made perfect FOREVER those who are being made holy.
     The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First He says:
     “This is the Covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put My Laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

We know right from wrong. If we have any questions on it, all we need to do is to refer back to the Ten Commandments. The LORD said to Moses: “I am the LORD your GOD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

  “You shall have no other gods before Me.
  “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your GOD, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
  “You shall not misuse the Name of the LORD your GOD, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His Name.
  “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your GOD has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your GOD. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.
  “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your GOD has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your GOD is giving you.
  “You shall not murder.
  “You shall not commit adultery.
  “You shall not steal.
  “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. 
  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor’s house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Deuteronomy 5:6‭-‬14‭, ‬16‭-‬21 NIV)

If that is too much, consider how Jesus answered a teacher of the law on which commandment was (is) most important: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our GOD, the LORD is One.  Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29‭-‬31 NIV

Pretty clear, yet we all continue to do as we please. That brings me to my absolute favorite statement in the Bible. Then the Holy Spirit  {One GOD; Three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit} adds:
     “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.” – Hebrews 10:12‭-‬18 NIV

If you have accepted Christ Jesus as your own personal Savior, then you know the Peace this gives. If you haven’t, then my prayer is that you will let go, let GOD, and receive this incredible gift. After all is said and done, isn’t it better to live your life as if there IS a God (THE God!!), than to live as if there isn’t and find out when you die that you were wrong? Just a thought…..

I Am Unworthy….

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Job went through so much, yet remained faithful to the Lord through it all. He lost his children, his wife, his home and all of his belongings; his livestock and his property. It’s really difficult to take in. To put it into perspective, can you imagine for a moment seeing it happen to someone like Donald Trump? He’s constantly in the media, a very public picture of wealth. So imagine – first, all of his children die in a fire, then he loses all of his properties and businesses. Gone; destroyed. His many homes and all of their contents are gone, and his wife (and ex’s) die. He is suddenly penniless and no one else will help him. He is reduced to homelessness, and he is shunned from all of the agencies and facilities that help the homeless. He has nothing except the clothes he is wearing.

Honestly, I can’t wrap my mind around it, and yet that is exactly what happened to Job. While he mourned for his losses, his “friends” urged him to renounce God…. but he refused. He knew God didn’t cause it and he knew that the source of the losses and the pain was the enemy, Satan.

Can we do that? So many times when tragedy strikes we immediately curse God for allowing it to happen. Losing a child is indescribable pain. God understands! Remember His Son? Imagine your pain multiplied by the total number of people who have lived, and are living, and will live before Jesus returns. That’s the amount of pain God suffered when Jesus went to the cross for our sins. God understands our suffering. ANY temptation, ANY pain we experience, He understands because He has suffered, and suffers with us still.

The one thing we need to remember as we go through our lives is that we are never alone. When we take the step to let Jesus into our hearts and be Lord of our lives, He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. We may lose battles along the road – we will lose battles! – but as followers of Jesus, we have WON the war! (Satan just hasn’t accepted his defeat yet.) Read the back of the Book!

I am unworthy, but Jesus came and covered my sins with His blood to wash me white as snow. He did it for you, too. You just need to accept it. Like the old hymn says, “What can wash my sins away? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus.”

http://bible.com/111/job.40.4.NIV

Mornings

Oklahoma spring mornings are so intriguing. When I first came out, the sky was overcast on the east and in the north, and there were angry looking clouds, dark and foreboding, building up in the west and the south. The wind whipping through the trees creates a sound reminiscent of a rapid creek in the background. The birds are mostly silent, holding on to their perches being foremost in their thoughts.

Within 15 minutes, the sky scape changes to a solid gray. Smaller clouds are scudding across in front of me, pushed by the force of the upper winds. Suddenly the sun breaks through, sending bright rays of light shooting down through the clouds. The wind still blows through, but it is washing the sky clean of the clouds and bringing a brilliant blue sky into view.

Wait a little while, because now the winds are bringing more of the thunder clouds, filling the sky again to the west and south, a promise of a thunderstorm. How can anyone seriously try to claim that this has all come to be by a chance meeting of a couple of atoms? (And besides, where did those atoms come from?) After the storm passes, God’s promise to never again destroy the earth by a flood begins to shine through the clouds. How magnificent is our LORD!

“Your kingdom is an Everlasting Kingdom, and Your dominion endures through ALL generations. The LORD is Trustworthy in all He promises and Faithful in all He does. The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your Hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is Righteous in ALL His ways and Faithful in all He does. The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in Truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy. My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD . Let every creature praise His Holy Name for ever and ever!” – Psalm 145 NIV
http://bible.com/111/psa.145.13-21.NIV

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God’s kingdom

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As I view this incredible, breathtaking place God created, I wonder how anyone can question whether or not there is a God Who Created our world. How can you doubt it?

“Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures through all generations.”

Look around you. Do you see His Faithfulness, or do you see your own failure?

“The LORD is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does. The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”

I have been hungry, and cold. I have wondered where I could sleep in relative safety. I have questioned why I was so hurt, and angry that God would allow the things that hurt me so deeply.

“The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time. You open Your Hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is Righteous in all His ways and Faithful in all He does.”

When I allowed Him to, He provided for me and protected me. He is a gentleman, and will not interfere unless you ask. But when I asked; when I let go and cried out for Him, He was right there with me. He never leaves us, once we have accepted Him as Savior. No matter where we go or what we do; it doesn’t matter how fast or how far we run, He is always right there, waiting. His angels watch over us and protect us. Without His interference, I would have died – many times over.

“The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The LORD watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”

Whether you accepted Him years ago or yesterday, He is here for you, waiting to comfort you. If you haven’t accepted Him, Christ Jesus, as Lord of your life, then I plead with you to read these verses again, and John 3: “For WHOEVER believes in Me WILL BE SAVED.” Praise Him with your lips and with your heart and with your life. It’s an AWESOME, AMAZING feeling. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” AMAZING GRACE!

“My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise His Holy Name for ever and ever!” – Psalm 145 NIV

AMEN and AMEN.