1. "Where Do I Go From Here?"
My daughter planned an "Elsa in One-derland" party to celebrate our youngest granddaughter's first birthday and she found some good ideas online to use the "Alice In Wonderland" theme. She set the tables with tea sets, had pink flamingo croquet mallots, and masks for her photo booth of the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, Alice, the Cat's grin, and the White Rabbit, to name a few. I was looking for quotes from the book to print and put on the tables and I was intrigued by this one...
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6) by Lewis Carroll
This quote was written in 1865, by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, (penned Lewis Carroll), and though the book is filled with nonsense, I see a great truth here. People are still asking this question today, "Where do I go from here?" Well, just like the Cheshire Cat said, "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." For all who want to get to heaven, there is only one way to get there. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) If, on the other hand, you answer as Alice, "I don't much care where--" the Cat was right, "Then it doesn't matter which way you go." I hope you will join us as we look in the scriptures and find some answers to the question, "What Really Matters?"
2. Believing On Jesus Matters
Believing on Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the thing that matters most in this life, and through all eternity. There are many religious people who believe in heaven, and many different thoughts on how to get there. Many people believe that they are "good" enough to go to heaven when they die. But how would we know how good is "good enough"? Revelation 21:8 is an alarming verse, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." The unbelieving and liars are listed here with the murderers. God's Word tells us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" and "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 3:23 and 6:23) There is hope. I am so thankful that the Lord showed me I was lost when I was just a young girl. He convicted me of my sin while my grandfather, Moyer P. Beasley, was preaching and my grandmother, Iola Beasley, told me that if I believed on Jesus and confessed my sin, He would save me. The Lord lifted the burden from my heart and gave me peace of mind that He would forgive me and take me to heaven when I die. It really does matter what you believe. Jesus is the only way to heaven. Please trust Him today. Admit that you can't be "good" enough in your own merits to go to heaven and accept that Jesus died to pay for your sin. Confess your sin to Him and ask Him to save you. Trust Him with all your heart and He will save you. That is what matters most!
3. Every Life Matters!
We hear a lot about "Black Lives Matter" and "Cop Lives Matter" and even "Unborn Lives Matter". When we turn to the scriptures in the Bible we can see that in God's eyes, "Every Life Matters!" Jesus, The Good Shepherd, told of the joy in heaven when one sinner is saved.
"4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." (Luke 15:4-7)
We also read in II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Jesus came to give His life for all; rich or poor, man, woman, or child, of any race. His gift of salvation is free to "whosoever" will call on His name. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please ask Him to save you today, because in His eyes, your life matters!
4. Prayer Really Matters
There are several verses in the Bible that tell us to pray. It was common for Jesus to pray all night. "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. (Luke 6:12) He prayed for the little children and He also taught the disciples to pray. The Apostle Paul told young Timothy that we are to pray for all men.
"1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." (I Timothy 2:1-4)
I also believe that we are to pray for all things. "Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly." (Hebrews 13:18) We can pray over the really small things. I wanted to find a new spring skirt and blouse and a new pair of shoes to wear to church, so I prayed that God would help me find them. I went shopping with Mom today and even though I have a hard time finding shoes that are comfortable, I found three pairs in the first store we went and I had to choose which one I liked the best. When we looked for clothes, I carried nine items into the dressing room to try on. Again I had to choose which ones to buy. This was a small thing that I prayed about and God answered my prayer. While we were shopping, my son sent me a text that his little boy was unresponsive and they had to call 911. Mom and I stopped right there in the middle of the store and prayed for little Nate. This was a big thing, and God answered our prayers and he seems to be alright. Nothing is too small to pray about and nothing is too big for our God. I believe that God wants us to keep an attitude of prayer at all times as we read in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Does prayer matter? Yes! We can pray for all people. We can pray for all things. And we can pray at all times. Here are three examples of men in the Bible that prayed and God said He heard their prayer.
"Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years." (Isaiah 38:5)
"But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John." (Luke 1:13)
"12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:12-14)
Prayer matters, and it's time for us to pray!
5. Giving Thanks Matters
One of our verses yesterday when we talked about prayer was I Timothy 2:1, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks..." We talked about praying for all people, and praying about all things, and praying at all times, but do we give our Lord prayers of thanksgiving for hearing and answering our prayers? When I give something to someone I like for them to acknowledge it by telling me "Thank you." I was taught that if someone held the door for me, or helped me pick up something I dropped, the polite thing to do was say, "Thank you." One of the ways we tried to teach our children to be thankful was in praying before each meal. Jesus gave thanks as He broke the loaves and fish to feed the multitudes. There is a verse that is repeated many times in the Bible, and it says, "O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." God is good and it does matter that we show our appreciation. And if your life is so hard that you can't think of anything else to thank Him for, remember II Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." We could spend all our time thanking Him for salvation, and it would never be enough. Don't wait until November to give thanks. Keep an attitude of gratitude to God and to others.
6. Does It Matter If We Quit?
Pastor Jack Tripp preached on "Why Christians Can't Quit" Wednesday and a portion of his text was taken from Jeremiah 20:8-9. "For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Jeremiah said he was going to quit, but God's Word burned in his heart and he had to keep on keeping on. It was a great sermon and I want to share some of the reasons Christians shouldn't quit.
1. The Call of God is upon us. "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," (II Timothy 1:9)
2. We are Constrained by His Love. "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." (II Cor. 5:14-15)
3. The Love of Other Christians (Our faithfulness is an encouragement to others.) "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (I John 4:7)
4. The Great Crowd of Witnesses. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," (Hebrews 12:1)
5. The Chastenings of the Lord. (Jonah is an example of the Lord's chastenings.)
6. The Comfort of the Holy Ghost. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:26-28)
7. We are Conscious of a Great Debt. "I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise." (Romans 1:14)
8. Because the Lord is Coming Back. "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:" (Mark 13:32-35)
One of the things Pastor Tripp said was "Wouldn't it be sad if you quit on the Lord today, and He comes back tomorrow." Don't quit. It really does matter that we keep on keeping on for the Lord!
7. Love And Kindness Matter
With all the bad news that we see and hear everyday it is so encouraging to hear the good stories. I like to read the stories shared on the Facebook page, "Love What Matters." If you do a google search for "Love What Matters" you will find the basis for the stories... "Inspiring personal stories of hope, love, and the things that really matter in life." Many are examples of people who "Pay It Forward" and those who help someone in need. As Christians we can let our light shine by helping others. Simple acts of kindness and love can go a long way to help someone who is discouraged, or feeling like there is no hope. God wants us to tell others about the love of Jesus, as He said in Mark 16:15. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." And as we go, we need to share the love and kindness the Lord has shown to us. Many in this world are sinking deep into despair and their only hope is the love of Christ. Take every opportunity to be kind and share God's love. There are many who feel as David when he prayed to the Lord in Psalms 142:4, "I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul." Let someone know you care. Let the lost know that you care for their soul.
8. Forgiveness Matters
I recently wrote on Forgiveness, and because it really does matter in our lives, I am reposting this entry. Without forgiveness we could never live in God's presence in heaven. Without forgiveness we would never be able to keep friendships going strong. Forgiveness really does matter!
I chose forgiveness as our topic today because it has made a big difference in my life. First, and foremost, is the forgiveness I received from Christ when I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. God's Word gives us this promise, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 1:9) Not only did He give me forgiveness of my sin, but Jesus makes it possible that I can forgive others. Many times in our lives we are hurt by our friends and family, sometimes through misunderstandings, and sometimes through malicious words or behavior. When we hang on to the pain and hurt feelings, it grows inside us and continues to bring us more pain, and often leads to bitterness. I realized long ago that I wanted to be a loving old soul, instead of a bitter cold person, and I prayed for the Lord to help me forgive... and He has. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray He said, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Mathew 6:14-15) Last in our thoughts on forgiveness, is learning to forgive ourselves. This is often harder than forgiving others. When we remember our sinful past, it can bring doubts and depression and cause us to stray away from God. A good verse to remember during these times is Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." It is hard for us to forget our sin, but after we confess it to God He has promised, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 10:17) Forgiveness has brought love and peace and joy to the pieces of my life, and it is all made possible through the Lord Jesus Christ.
9. It Matters To Stay Faithful To God's House
Today is Sunday, the Lord's Day, and it is a good day to think about why it matters that we stay faithful to God's House. I know that there are some who are not able to go to church, but I believe that there are many who don't feel like it is important to attend church regularly. First, let's see what the scripture says in Hebrews 10:25. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." I believe that in being faithful to church we help each other as we lift up one another in prayer and love, or "exhorting one another". We can have fellowship and find that Christian friends can be as close as family members, as we spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This verse also reminds us that the Lord is coming back, and wouldn't it be great if He came while we were worshipping Him. We are spiritually fed by our teachers and preachers in church, and that helps us grow, as we see in II Peter 3:18, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." Another reason we need to be faithful is so our children and grandchildren can see and follow in our footsteps. I believe the main reason we need to be faithful to church can be found at the end of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. The Lord wants to fellowship with us. I don't know why He loves us so much that He would die for us, but His Word tells us that He stands outside the door, waiting for us to ask Him in.
"20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Revelation 3:20-22)
10. Giving Our Tithes Matters
As we continue with our devotions on "What Really Matters" I want us to look at giving to the Lord. God created all things and all things belong to Him. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." (Colossians 1:16-17) He owns the hills, the cattle on the hills (Psalms 50:10), and the gold under the hills. So, when we talk of giving our tithes to the Lord, it is not because He needs it. Our giving to the Lord helps others. We give to our church, which gives to missionaries, which give out the gospel message and help enable others to give. Our giving shows our gratitude to the Lord. I believe that giving our tithes also builds our faith in God, trusting that He will supply our needs. I close with this verse from Malachi 3:10, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
11. Giving Our Talents Matters
Today we are looking at the parable of the talents in Matthew 25.
"14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." (Matthew 25:14-21)
I know that in these Bible times the talents were money. But, I think we can apply this to using our talents for the Lord. We are not all given the same talents, or even the same amount of talents, as we see that one servant was given five, another two, and another one, as explained in verse 15, "to every man according to his several ability." But, they were all expected to use the talents they were given and those who did were rewarded, while the one who hid his talent was rebuked and the talent he had was taken away. (Matthew 25:25-29) So our lesson today is a simple one. It does matter that we use our talents for the Lord. In the letter to the church at Corinth, Paul explains that God has given people different gifts, as apostles, prophets, teachers, and among the list is the gift of helps. Let me encourage you today to find your talent and use it for the glory of the Lord. And if you feel that you can't teach, or play a musical instrument, or sing, then maybe you have the gift of helps. I have often prayed that God would lead me in the right direction to be a help to others, and He surely has, and continues to do so. It is a joy to use your talents for the Lord!
12. Giving Our Time Matters
Last week we talked about giving thanks and this week we looked at giving our tithes and our talents. Today we have a valuable asset, that once it's gone, it cannot be replaced, and that is our time. We may not have much money to give to the Lord. We may feel that we don't have many talents to offer, but we all have twelve hours in each day, seven days each week. How much of that time do we give to the Lord? Think about all the time saving devices we use each day, and how much quicker we can prepare our meals, and wash and dry our clothes. We have transportation and can visit with friends through the internet without leaving our homes. We should have more time, but it seems like there are not enough hours in the day to get all the things done that we need to do. I want to encourage you to take time to talk with the Lord in prayer, and see what a difference it makes in your life. Take time to hear what the Lord wants to say to you through reading the Bible, and let Him lead you in the right paths. As you read this parable notice that the deeds were simple, requiring not much more than a little time, and see that in the eyes of the Lord, it really does matter.
"34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:34-40)
13. The Choice That Really Matters
We make choices every day. We decide what time we get up, what we will wear, and what we will eat, and that is just the beginning. We may not always have many options for those choices, but we still have the choices to make. Many choices are small and some don't make much difference in the outcome of our lives. But some choices we make can affect not only what happens today, but can change our lives from this day forward. When I think about making choices, I usually think about Joshua. We recently looked at the life of Joshua, and after being a servant of the Lord all his life, in the end he still chose to serve the Lord. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) It really matters who you choose to serve, not only in this life, but it will determine where you spend eternity. Moses had also encouraged the Israelites to choose the Lord before he died. "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) We find this thought in the New Testament also. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13) Don't spend all your time on the small choices, and forget the most important choice you will ever make. And don't wait until it is too late to make the choice to serve God, because in not choosing life, you have already chosen death.
"16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
14. What We Are Seeking Matters
My grandchildren like to play "hide and seek", just as I did when I was growing up. Once they find a hiding spot they like, they keep hiding in the same spot, so they are easy to find. At Christmas we hide my Snoopy toys and they take turns finding them. Many children will be hiding Easter eggs soon, and seeking the prizes they find inside. As we grow older, we still get a joy out of seeking the "prizes" of life. Some seek after fame and fortune. There is nothing wrong with seeking a good job to have financial security, but we need to make sure we keep our priorities in check, and stay on the straight and narrow path of righteousness. Before we know the peace, joy, love, strength and contentment we find in trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, we may seek sinful pleasures of this life to fill the void and loneliness. Our thought today is a simple one, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
"25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:25-33)
15. Leading Our Children To Christ Matters
We have come to our final entry on "What Really Matters". There are many more things that matter, such as taking care of our health, being careful not to judge others, and being a witness for the Lord, but I want to end our devotional theme talking about our children. There are so many sports and activities that fill our time with our children it might be hard to fit worship, and prayer, and Bible reading into our busy schedules. But leading our children to Christ has to be a priority in our lives. We must let our light shine for our children and teach them the things of God. This is very important in God's eyes, as we see in Deuteronomy 6:5-9.
"5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."
The Children of Israel were commanded to continually teach their children about God. And it is just as important today. Our children are bombarded by the sinful things of this world, and their only hope is accepting the Lord as their Savior. All of our possessions will be left behind when we die, but when our children are saved, we have the promise that they be in heaven with us through all eternity.