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GLMX #178: A Reminder About Resolutions

 

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Here we are at the beginning of another year. Like so many others have done, you probably took the opportunity during the past few days to look back over how your life has gone over the past year, and you have made up your mind about some things you want to change going forward. In fact, you probably have one or two “new year’s resolutions” that you intend to keep over the next twelve months.

Friend, I wish you all the best.

However, I want to encourage you not to leave God out of the equation. The Bible does not say much by way of new year’s resolutions. However, in His Word, God does encourage us to examine our lives and seek God’s help as we try to become better people each day. Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” Haggai 1:5 says, “Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” This means we ought to look at and examine our lifestyle. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Thus, it is wise to look back on our lives, and then to look forward with the determination to make changes for the better.

One reason why many people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions is because they try to reach them in their own strength instead of with God’s help. They try to do it all on their own. However, they quickly realize their own shortcomings while trying to make this effort on their own. Despite their best intentions, they just can’t do it on their own.

One of the best things you can do is turn to God for help. God’s Word tells us that the reason why we fail so often, not only in keeping our New Year’s Resolutions, but in many other things as well, is because we have a sinful nature. Sin is the bad or wrong things that we do, and the Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

If you want to truly make a change in your life, something must be done about your sin problem. If nothing is done, you will continue to stumble, fall, and make mistakes despite your best intentions. Thankfully, God has already done everything that needs to be done to take care of our sin problem. The Bible says in John 3:16: “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.”

Those who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin and the punishment of sin are transformed from the inside out. Their lives are changed, and the Bible says they become “new creatures.” They are no longer slaves to sin, but the children of God who have their ultimate destiny and future in Heaven with Him and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Right now, at the start of a fresh, new year, may I encourage you not to go another day without Jesus Christ in your life. He is the Friend you need to lead you, guide you, and walk alongside you on the road of life. Would you like to trust Him today? Allow me to show you how you can do that.

+ Plus, listen to Maurette Brown-Clark singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”

GLMX #177: Aristotle and True Happiness

 

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In his classic titled, “How to Read a Book”, Mortimer J. Adler summarizes the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s views on happiness. He says:

“Aristotle’s definition of happiness is the happiness of the whole life both in the temporal and the eternal. Happiness is the whole of the good, not the highest of the good. It does not consist in self-perfection or self-improvement. For Aristotle, happiness is a quality of a whole life — whole not only in a temporal sense, but in all the aspects of a life. A happy man is a man who puts it all together and keeps it together. This is the controlling insight of Aristotle’s writings.”

According to Merriam-Webster, happiness is: a state of well-being and contentment; a pleasurable or satisfying experience; it is the feeling of pleasure and enjoyment because of life.

If there is one thing that people desire in life, perhaps more than anything else, it is happiness. We know that money cannot buy happiness. Just recently, a Wall Street investor gave away his fortune of $800 million and then jumped from a building, committing suicide.

Numerous books, television shows, radio broadcasts, articles, and studies have been done on how people can be happy. Some people say that happiness comes from having everything you want. Others say happiness comes from being in loving relationships. Still others say happiness comes from doing good.

Aristotle, and other great philosophers of the past, spent much of their time thinking about the big questions of life. What is the meaning of life? What is man’s purpose in life? How can man be happy in life? Where did man come from? Where does man go after he dies?

I believe that on the issue of happiness, Aristotle might be on to something. Let’s take a look again at how Adler summarizes his views. He says, “happiness is the happiness of the whole life both in the temporal and the eternal.” In other words, it is impossible to be happy in this temporal life if you do not already have the guarantee of happiness in eternal life.

In other words, if you are going through this life constantly worried about what will happen after you die, you will never be happy and you will never be able to enjoy this life.

Today, allow me to show you how you can set your mind at ease about what will happen after you die so that you can enjoy your life right now. Or, as Aristotle might have put it, allow me to show you how you can have a happy eternal life so you can have a happy temporal life.

+ Plus, listen to Joy Williams singing “Beautiful Redemption”

GLMX #176: Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?

 

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On the night when Jesus Christ was born, a choir of angels appeared to shepherds who were taking care of their sheep outside of Bethlehem. The Bible tells us in Luke 2:14 that they sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” We view these words today as a universal message of hope for mankind. However, as we draw to the close of another year, some may wonder, what happened to peace on earth?

2013 has been full of unpeaceful events. The civil war in Syria rages on. After years and years of trying, Israel and Palestine are no closer to a peace deal . Tensions in the Pacific region — between China, Japan, S. Korea, N. Korea, and the United States — have increased. Several European nations have expressed alarm over aggressive military posturing by Russia.

In 2013, there were 22 school shootings. Gun violence in Chicago and other big cities continued. Nearly every week, our nation was jolted by the news of some horrendous crime. And we are left to wonder about the angels’ song. What happened to peace on earth?

Since the beginning of history, man has been in a constant state of war and strife. Men have formed alliances and signed peace treaties in an effort to bring about peace on earth. But, as one conflict is resolved, several more are raging in different places around the world. The history of mankind has been one of continuous enmity, suffering, pain, and death.

What did the angels mean when they said that peace had come to earth? Well, the peace they were talking about was not political peace. They did not mean that all wars and crimes would cease in a moment of time. Nor did they mean that humans would suddenly be at peace with each other.

What the angels meant was that with Jesus Christ coming to earth to die on the cross for our sins, peace between man and God could be made. Billy Graham said, “The greatest need in the world is the transformation of human nature. We need a new heart that will not have lust and greed and hate in it. We need a heart filled with love and peace and joy, and that is why Jesus came into the world.”

Mitsuo Fuchida, a captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II said, “I know the brutality and the cruelties of war better than many people. Now I want to work for peace. But how can mankind achieve a lasting peace? True peace of heart, mind, and soul can only come through Jesus Christ.”

+ Plus, listen to Casting Crowns singing “Peace on Earth”

GLMX #175: Beyonce: It’s the Soul that Needs the Surgery

 

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To the surprise of the music industry and the delight of her fans, multi-Grammy award-winning singer Beyonce released an entire album on iTunes on Friday, December 13th, without any previous announcement or promotions. On Friday night, both versions of the album were ranked at number 1 and number 2 on the iTunes charts. With thousands of people trying to download the album in a matter of hours, iTunes reportedly crashed under the sudden load of visitors.

According to Religion News Service, one of the songs worth listening to is titled “Pretty Hurts.” The song, which is accompanied by a video in which Beyoncé is acting as a beauty pageant competitor, addresses the critical way women are treated in the entertainment industry simply based on their outward appearance. The hook goes like this:

Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Perfection is the disease of a nation
Pretty hurts
Shine the light on whatever’s worse
Trying to fix something
But you can’t fix what you can’t see
It’s the soul that needs the surgery

We live in a society that places a lot of emphasis on a person’s outward appearance. We make judgments of people based on how they look. And people work desperately to present an image of perfection when on the inside they are broken, hurt, wounded, and messed up. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our day is the vast number of people who look alright on the outside but, in reality, it’s all a facade — a mask they put on in order to deceive the world.

As Beyonce laments, the makeup, the nice clothes, and the controlled personality, is really an attempt to fix something that you can’t see. It’s not the outside that needs a re-make. It’s the inside — the soul, the part of you that you can’t see — that needs the surgery. On the inside, people are messed up because of their own sins, failures, and faults that leave them feeling guilty, inadequate, and even unworthy of success or the finer things of life.

God does not want you to live under the pressure of constantly trying to fix your problems by fixing up your physical appearance. As Beyonce sings, “you can’t fix what you can’t see.” It’s the inside — the part of you that you can’t see — that needs to be fixed. And God is the only one who can fix a person on the inside. He can heal your soul. He already knows your sins and failures. He already knows your darkest secrets. In Jeremiah 16:17, God says, “Mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.” Ecclesiastes 12:14 also says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” You can’t hide anything from God.

Not only does He know all about your faults and failures, but He has done something about them. Two thousand years ago, he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and accept the punishment that you deserve for your sins, failures, and faults. Jesus Christ shed his own blood so you would not have to. And 1 John 1:7 says, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

Today, you can bring everything in your past that you have been trying to hide from others before the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will wash you, cleanse you, and make you a new person on the inside. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

+ Plus, listen to Natalie Grant singing “Perfect People”

GLMX #174: President Ronald Reagan’s Son is Sorely Mistaken

 

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A couple weeks ago, Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan, recorded a radio spot proclaiming his atheism. In the ad, he announces, “I’m Ron Reagan, an unabashed atheist,” and then goes on to encourage people to join the Freedom From Religion Foundation — “the nation’s largest and most effective organization of atheists and agnostics.” He closes out the ad spot with these words: “Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”

It is sad to hear someone speaking so glibly about Hell. Hell is a serious matter Allow me to share with you some aspects of Hell that might make you and Ron Reagan think twice about going there.

1. Hell is a place of fiery torment. The Bible says in Matthew 13:41-42 that at the end of time, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity [sin]; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Revelation 20:15 also says, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Imagine that: being burned by fire forever and ever. That is what Hell is like.

2. Hell is a place of terrifying darkness. In Matthew 8:12, Jesus Christ said, “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In 2 Peter 2:4, Peter wrote: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” Hell is a place of utter darkness! In Hell, the darkness is so great and so real that you will be able to feel it. That is what Hell is like.

3. Hell is a place of ceaseless haunting memory. In a true story which Jesus told about a man who died and went to Hell, he expressed the fact that the man could still remember his life on earth even while he was in Hell. In fact, while he was in Hell, Abraham said to this man, “Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” While he was in Hell, this man was able to remember all the wrong things he had done, the lifestyle he had led, and the many opportunities he had squandered to avoid ending up in that awful place. His life played over and over again like a broken record in his mind — all of his guilt and regrets in a never-ending sequence. That is what Hell is like.

4. Hell is a place of separation from God. According to First Thessalonians 1:9, those who go to Hell “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Whether you are a deist, an atheist, or an agnostic — whether you believe in God or not — one thing is certain: you will be separated from Him if you end up in Hell.

5. Hell is a place of no return. Once a person enters the gates of Hell, there will be no return. In the story which Jesus Christ told about the man who went to Hell, Abraham told this man, “between us (those in Paradise) and you (those in Hell) there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from hence.” In Hell, there is no second chance. There is no more hope. No more grace. No more mercy. No more gospel. No more preachers. And yes, no more God. Once a person, is in Hell, he will be locked in forever. That is the kind of place Hell is like, my friend. I assure you, you do not want to go there.

Ron Reagan is sorely mistaken. No matter what he says now, he will be truly sorry if he ends up in Hell.

+ Plus listen to Lecrae and Suzy Rock singing “No Regrets”