JOURNEY TO HEAVEN’S GATE
By Jo Youngman(I thought I’d better include my name just to let you know that I’m not the minister or lay leader of the Forsyth United Methodist church, I’m a member of the congregation doing my part in reaching out. My plan is to update every other week and with God’s help I will. This is my journey and I pray to reach people to bring along in the way I know best. I’m excited and I hope it is contagious.)
Some would say that I’m really stepping out of the box in this one, well perhaps I am. In the Bible we are told pray unceasing, to me it isn’t being on my knees praying all my waking hours---it is walking with God via Jesus through the Holy Spirit who is with you always.
Breaking down my thinking starts in Genesis where God is walking in the Garden of Eden as He enjoyed doing with Adam and Eve, but this time they were hiding because this was after they disobeyed God and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As it says in verse 1:9, Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? As with them, God missed walking and talking with His children, so He sent His Son Jesus, who died on the cross so we could have a relationship with Him through Jesus. As it says in John 14: 6 & 7, Jesus said to him (Thomas), I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him. And to Philip Jesus said, (verses 9a, 10 & 11, He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. Then there is the Holy Spirit which God tells us in Ezekiel 36: 27, I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then the frosting on the cake, Matthew 28:20b, I am with you always even to the end of the age. In the words of the hymn “In the Garden”, And He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.
Get it! Praying unceasing is communicating with God through Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit as He is with us always--- The Holy Trinity with us as we walk, work, relax; so we can communicate (pray) unceasing.
Praying can be as simple as saying thanks when get a good parking place, when you see something beautiful; simple statements as asking for help when shopping, in situations. Bottom line, walk and talk with God in all aspects of your daily life, talk with Him in general as a friend you are walking with, because he is. That is, besides the on knees praying, the private times with just the two of you. I’m just saying!
I leave you with this from Micah 6:8, He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
STILL A “BEST SELLER”
(Tops for Life Coaching)
There is a Life Coach that has a book of instruction still on top of the Best Selling list---longer than any other book written. The book? The Bible. It may be surprising, at least to many, that according to Guinness World Records (2017), There is little doubt that the Bible is the world’s best selling and most widely distributed book. Although the Bible is put together by “books”written by different writers, the Author is God. It says in 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Get it! In spite of laws and non-believers---God is still in control, He is still available for our Life Coaching and His gift of instruction, the Bible is still strong.
My heart sings with those statistics---but are the Bibles being read? I’m not talking about looking up an interesting verse now and then. Not as required reading of particular verses in Confirmation. I’m not talking about reading along during Sunday sermon. I’m talking about daily reading that you absorb! Have you read John 3 where Jesus was talking with Nicodemus clarifying things? Well I’ll remind you using wording of today aka Good News Bible today’s English Version. These are verses 3-7: Jesus answered, I am telling you the truth no one can see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again. How can a grown man be born again? Nicodemus asked, He certainly cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time? I am telling you the truth, replied Jesus, that no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the water (baptism) and the Spirit. A person is born physically of human parents, but he is born spiritually of the Spirit. Do not be surprised because I tell you that you must all be born again. Where does this come in for life coaching our life?---because it is the main purpose for our life---or should be. Oh, the Bible covers any and all aspects of living, including toward each other---just read it! Well actually, study, absorb the teachings in the Bible.
Just because families believe in God, call themselves Christians doesn’t mean that there is a lot of home Bible reading being done. Speaking from experience past (not reading) and present (reading); it does make a BIG difference in your life. Trouble getting started? A Bible based minister and church, Bible studies will help to push you. The Bible is where ALL the answers are and that includes clarifications of things you may have heard. The devotion for 8/10 in Jesus Calling words it so well, As you walk close to me (Jesus) saturating your mind with Scripture, I will show you how to spend your time and energy. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Peak your interest! Just a little!
You can’t absorb everything in day, but you can start today---just open the Bible, and start reading, best Life-Coaching book around!
IS THAT ALL MY FRIEND!!!
You turned your life over to God, you are born again---and no, that’s not all my friend. As a newborn born babe it is time to develop, a time to learn. As Max Lucado says in his book, When God Whispers Your Name, Growth is the goal of the Christian. Maturity is mandatory. If a child ceased to develop, the parent would be concerned, right? …When a child stops growing, something is wrong. When a Christian stops growing, help is needed. If you are the same Christian you were a few months ago, be careful, you might be wise to get a checkup. Not on your body, but on your heart. Not a physical, but a spiritual. When we turn ourselves over to God the Father helps us to do what He wants us to do, to guide us in instruction by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus tells us in John 14:16-18: And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. And in verse 21: He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
He also left us the wonderful tool called the Bible and it tells us there in Romans 15:4, For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.
So relax, communicate with the Father---God is a loving, understanding Father and when we follow His instructions, it’s not overwhelming. Unfortunately some do as I read in A Bride for Donnigan by Janette Oke (which I enjoyed reading by the way). Donnigan has been trying to find the way to God in prayer. Then his daughter prayed, simply. I love how Christian writers get messages out even in fiction, here goes: He (Donnigan) was still shaken by Brenna’s simple prayer. Was that what Jesus had meant when He had spoken of becoming like a little child? Donnigan concluded that it well might be. Her faith had been so simple---so complete---her prayer so earnest from her childish heart. …That’s what I’ve been wanting—longing for, Donnigan told himself. But I’ve been making the whole thing difficult. Trying to sort it all out---make sure I was doing everything right. And it is as simple as that, calling God---telling Him we’re sorry. Pastor Larry’s sermon series is on simplifying, it makes so much sense, why do we make so many rules for Christianity, for our churches---and why do we think we need fancy prayers? Again, as Donnigan said, Oh God, I come like Brenna, thank you that you showed us the Way through a little child to come to you with honesty---and talk to you Lord. Yes, communication with God is a main component to Christianity, He loves having “talks” with His children. As Pastor Larry says, does and gladly my husband and I do---start your day with Jesus.
Then, in His understanding to help us in all understanding, He gave gifts of preaching, teaching Bible Studies which provides sharing, which helps understanding. He gave gifts of writing to further help us, don’t be afraid of non-fiction; Max Lucado is a good author to break into that kind of reading. We have churches to energize in the Lord and have time fellowshipping with fellow Christians free from the “world”. And, He may call you, for whatever reason---don’t be afraid. Hindsight may show you He has been training you all the while in subtle ways. Besides, remember what it says in Psalms 32:8, I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
We also grow, just as a child, through trials and the try and try again method; but as a child we also can know joy and enjoy the mysteries of life God has provided until that day when you reach heaven, and as it says in Matthew 25: 21 & 23: His Lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant….
Christians and non-Christians share something in common---temptation. No one escapes this, even Jesus in His time on earth didn’t. Henry Ward Beecher said it clearly. All men are tempted. There is no man (and that includes women) that lives that can’t be broken down provided it is the right temptation put in the right spot. It is especially difficult to avoid temptations in the working place, but Dietrich Bonhoeffer has a positive on that:
Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of men, but only in the sight of God. He wants to give us today the power which we need for our work.
I’ve been reading a book by Dr. David Jeremiah called Ten Questions Christians are Asking and one Bible verse he emphasizes to keep close to your heart is 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. The word escape jumped at me because it comes to choice---yes that gift again. Bottom line: Sanctioning to temptation means that, As we heard in Pastor Larry’s Sunday sermon (5/21/2017): You, bought it, You, leased it, You, ate it, You, drank it, You, smoked it, You, dated it---You, are your worst enemy. Again from the book, If you hear someone say,” I was overcome by temptation; it was more than I could stand”, don’t believe it. That person had better come up with another excuse. God is a faithful Father who will never allow a temptation in my life that is more powerful than His ability to keep me. In 2 Timothy it says, If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. I admit that when you become a Christian and the more you move into God’s teachings, the devil works his most charming best to turn you. Again from the book, The devil sweetens the prizes, then slams the prison door. Again, go back to 1 Corinthians where it says, God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape.. we only need to take it. Again from the book we are reminded; In a very real sense, Jesus Himself is that way of escape. He said in John 14:6, “I am the way”. We may not have sufficient power to resist temptation, but He does! We can’t overcome the smallest sin, but He is our victory. Someone said, “When temptation comes knocking, let Jesus answer the door.” That may sound trite, but it conveys a spiritual truth that many people miss. Christian life is the Christ-life, it is Christ living His life though us. As we’re fully surrendered to Him, filled with His spirit, and armed with His Word, His righteousness is manifested through our lives. We must always keep this in mind because as Pastor Larry said in his sermon, A bad day, and we all have them, can leave the door open to the devil.
I leave you with this to remember if temptation come’s a’ knocking, and it will, if you might think, who can it hurt?----what about you!
As I write this, we are in Holy Week, season of The Cross. I know it was so Jesus could take our sins upon Himself and to open the path to the Father, but I’m by nature inquisitive and I wondered about Jesus’s thoughts on His role; so I talked (prayed) to Jesus about it. One day recently I flipped open my Bible, as I often do, and when I looked to see where it landed, before me was John 10 where Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees on His role; bingo! Thank you! (Disclaimer: As title says, my perception). Verses that jumped out into my assimilation were: 1. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. I thought, who is the door? I knew the shepherd, and well sheep too! Answer: In verse 7. Jesus said, Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. Then He says in 9. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. Then in 11: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Now sheep, there are several places in the Bible that clarify that, but for this I selected Psalm 100: 3, Know that the Lord, He is God: (b)-We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
To continue I’m going back to John and verses 14 – 18. 14: I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by My own. 15: As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16: And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17: Therefore My Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. 18: Now Jesus really lays it out in this verse: No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.
Yes, seek answers from God in anything and if you give Him silence, He will answer you in ways you will understand. And that is my perception.
P.S. I’ve decided to read the Gospel according to John, completely, again, as I muse, what else did I miss! Or should I say, wasn’t ready to really absorb! What about you?