Weighed in the balance…

I was studying the fifth chapter of the book of Daniel this week, which tells of an incident that occurred during a party over 2,500 years ago.    You see the King was throwing a party with all of his friends and all of the palace staff when he went too far….he mocked God and used the holy items which were stolen from the temple in Jerusalem in an ungodly way.   In fact King Belshazzar and his guests used these holy vessels and then gave praise to “the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Daniel 5:4).  This portion of scripture is commonly known because of the “writing on the wall”, but as I was studying it this week, it was not just the hand writing on the wall, but the actual words that were written that grabbed my attention.

Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand emerged and began writing opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the back of the hand that did the writing. Then the king’s face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together.

The hand terrified the King and his guests as a message was written that nobody could understand.  Nobody understood the message.  None of the “great minds” of the day could tell the king what it means.   Nobody understood the words of warning.   None that is except for a prophet of the Lord named Daniel.

25 “Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‘MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.’ 26 This is the interpretation of the message: ‘MENĒ’—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it.  27 ‘TEKĒL’—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient.  28 ‘PERĒS’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”

Daniel, the prophet of the LORD, was able to interpret the words which gives one of the saddest commentaries about anyone ever recorded (at least in my opinion).  The word that really stuck out to me was ‘TEKEL’.  This word actually means ‘weighed’ or ‘shekel’, but in context it means, you have been weighed in the balance and found deficient (or lacking).   Wow, did you catch that?   Daniel basically tells the King, you have been examined by God and you don’t measure up.  You have fallen short of what God has called you to.   You may be celebrating now, but punishment is coming quickly.

Those words stopped me in my tracks.  I had to ask myself the question, “what if God were to weigh me in the balance….would I be found lacking?”  The scary thing is that this is really not a hypothetical question because one day, we will ALL be judged, you know, literally “weighed in the balance”, by a HOLY GOD and will ALL be found lacking (Hebrews 9:27).  Remember God’s standard is perfection and none of us are perfect.   In fact, the Bible reminds us that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)!

So are we to eat, drink and be merry until the time of our punishment as being perfect seems hopeless?  CERTAINLY NOT!  There is HOPE for all of us and HIS name is JESUS CHRIST!

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18, NASB95)

If we surrender our lives to JESUS, REPENT and TURN from our sin, allow HIM to be LORD OF ALL in our lives we have nothing to fear.  Being found lacking is the destiny of every living person – UNLESS we submit to JESUS and ask HIM to be LORD of our lives.    Romans 5:8 tells us that “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by HIS blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

Don’t let today pass you by.   Won’t you surrender your life to HIM today?

God Bless,

Stephen

NOTICE: The advertisements on this and referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope. Thank you.

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Lacey Sturm’s Ransom Note

Thank God for Jesus Christ, through whom God demonstrates His own love toward us (Romans 5:8, NASB95)!  While we– all of us— were yet sinners– unrighteous, unholy, letting the pride of our hearts keep us from trusting God and knowing His Salvation, having hatred toward Him– He sought to love us!  “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.  We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared,  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7, NIV84).  May we know the reality of God’s love for us today, knowing that it is His pleasure to ransom us…it is His pleasure to be the Ransom for us!  He doesn’t want us to be held back by the hatred and pride of our hearts– He doesn’t want us to continue on and die in our sins!  May we truly understand the beauty and greatness of Christ’s lovingkindness, grace, and mercy and live as heirs who have been ransomed by Him and who have the hope of eternal life!

Victoria

The Valley of Decision

I love (“sports love” that is) Football!   Now you have to understand that I am talking about US Football here.   The National Football League (NFL) has done a great job of captivating our attention and gaining market share not just during the 16 week football season, but now even into the Spring with all of the attention on the NFL Draft.   It is fascinating to see how something like the NFL draft which used to happen almost behind the scenes has become a passion for football fans beginning literally the day after the Super bowl.    This attention on the NFL draft has also had a side effect of bringing even more attention to college football players as everyone is determining who the right players are for “their team”.

As I was watching the NFL draft last week I couldn’t help but notice all of the decisions being made.  Each team had to decide:

  • Which player they should draft…
  • Who is the “best available athlete”…
  • Should they even draft a player or trade their spot to another team for a different selection spot…
  • They had to decide when in their allotted time where they going to announce their decision as well…

Not only did the teams need to make decisions, but the fans each had to make decisions about what they thought of the selections…would they “cheer” or “boo” the decisions made by their team.    The networks had to decide how they were going to present the draft, which players they were going to highlight, which commentators were going to be on location in New York City, how much they were going to sell advertising time for.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….it’s always about decisions!

Thinking about this reminded me of Joel 3:14 in the Old Testament which states “…Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!   For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision…”.    Joel is not referring to a career related decision, or “best available athlete” decision, he is talking about an ETERNAL decision.

The Bible is filled with examples of decisions that people had to make:

  • Adam and Eve had to decide if they would obey GOD or eat the fruit from the forbidden tree.   (Genesis 3)
  • Cain had to decide how he would treat his brother Abel.  (Genesis 4)
  • The people of Noah’s day had to decide if they would listen to the call for repentance or take their chances swimming outside of the ark.    (Genesis 7)
  •  Joshua told the Israelites to decide “…whom [they would] serve…”   (Joshua 24:15)
  • David had to decide if he would attack the Giant or cower in fear.   (1 Samuel 17)
  • Esther had to decide if she would take a stand for what’s right or let her people die.   (Esther 5)
  • Blind Bartimaeus had to decide if he would cry out to Jesus or sit back quietly.  (Mark 10:48)
  • The Ethiopian had to decide if he would take help from Phillip or if he would let his pride get in the way.    (Acts 8:26-40)
  • King Agrippa had to decide if he would believe the testimony of Paul or if he would stay in his traditions.   Unfortunately, King Agrippa was only “almost persuaded”.   (Acts 26:28)

Earlier in chapter 3, Joel talks about this “valley of decision” occurring in the “the valley of Jehoshaphat” where the Bible tells us the nations will be judged.   The word Jehoshaphat in this context literally means “The Lord will Judge”.    This judgment will be based on the ETERNAL decision that each of us make.

Scripture is very clear.   We are reminded by Paul that ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.  (Romans 3:23)    The Bible also tells us that there is only one way to get to Heaven…and that way is through Jesus Christ.   (John 14:6)  One of the most well known Bible verses is John 3:16 which tells us  “…For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him…”.   Every one of us must make the decision that will determine our eternal destination.   Either we will decide to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior or we will decide to reject HIM.    The decision is actually pretty simple, if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior we will be forgiven of our sins and we will be a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) with a future heavenly destination of Heaven.   If we decide to reject Jesus Christ as our Savior we will remain unrepentant sinners with a future eternal destination of Hell.

You may be thinking, “but how do I decide to accept Jesus as my Savior? “, “Can He really forgive me?”  The bible makes us a promise found in John 1:12 where we are told “…But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…”     This means that if you believe and accept that JESUS is the Son of GOD who died on the cross for your sins and rose from the grave you have the right to become children of God.

Maybe you are thinking, “how can Jesus love me….you don’t know what I’ve done?”    Know that JESUS does love you and is waiting with open arms for you to make your decision.  In fact in Matthew 11:28, Jesus says “…Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened…”    Notice he doesn’t put any conditions on it, HE loves you and is waiting for you to decide to come to HIM!

Finalizing this critical decision is a straightforward process:

  • Admit that you are a sinner who is in need of JESUS CHRIST to be your Savior.  Everyone one of us are sinners (Romans 3:23).  That means that even if we just do one little thing wrong (yes, even a “white lie”) during our lifetime, we are not perfect and are not worthy of spending eternity in the presence of GOD.  There is only one way to GOD – we need a Savior…and HIS name is JESUS  (John 14:6).
  • Repent (turn from) your sins.   To repent means to turn away from something or to literally change our attitude about it.   It is not just feeling really bad about getting caught, but it is about making a conscious decision to turn from our sins – with the help of God – and change our attitude about our sins.   Matthew 4:17 tells us to “…repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near..”
  • Believe that JESUS CHRIST died for you on the cross and rose from the grave.    This “believing” is the next critical piece of the process.   Hebrews 11:6 tells us “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him…”.   JESUS never sinned, but HE died on the cross taking all of our sins on HIM and HE took the judgment that we deserved.   He literally paid the price that our sins required.    He made the decision to do this because of his great love for us and because of His sacrifice we can be forgiven!

Just talk directly to GOD, know that HE is listening and say something from your heart like:

“Jesus, I know that I am a sinner in need of Yo,u the Savior and I ask for Your forgiveness.   I believe that You died for my sins and rose from the dead.   I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart.   I trust You and have decided to follow You as my Savior and Lord.   In Your Name I pray….”

Once you surrender your life to Christ, you can be assured that you have made the best decision anyone could ever make!

Are you in the valley of decision today?   What decision have you made about your eternal destination?    Choose wisely!

God Bless!

Stephen

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NOTICE: The advertisements on this site  or referred to sites are neither published by nor subject to With True Hope and as such the content expressed does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of With True Hope.  Thank you.

“The Reason Sinners Live”

SpurgeonGoldCover

I’ve been reading the book, “Spurgeon Gold: Pure. Refined.”, compiled by Ray Comfort. To appreciate the noteworthiness of this statement you must understand that there are not too many books beside the Bible that I have begun to read and have delighted to keep reading. And if you don’t believe me, just ask my parents -bless their hearts- who homeschooled me for nearly a decade! Anyway, the reason for mentioning this great read is that I would like to share with you a snippet from the passage, “The Reason Sinners Live”:

 “Remember that by a glance, we may commit adultery; by a thought, we may be guilty of murder; by a desire, we may steal. Sin is any want of conformity to perfect holiness, and that want of conformity is justly chargeable upon ever one of us…Instead of destroying offending [or sinning] man from off the face of the earth, the Lord comes near to us in loving condescension, and pleads with us by His Spirit, saying, ‘You have sinned, but My Son has died. In Him, I am prepared to deal with you in a way of pure mercy and unmingled grace’…Apart from the blood of atonement, you would now be past hope, shut up forever in the place of doom. But see how the Great Father bears with you! He stands prepared to hear your prayer, to accept your confession of sin, to honor your faith, and to save you from your sin through the sacrifice of His Dear Son.”

You may want to reread that. Astounding, right?!? We are undeniably sinners but not hopeless sinners BECAUSE Jesus Christ is undeniably Salvation!

Last week’s post, “What Kind Of People?”, largely emphasized our responsibilities to live in perfect holiness- distinct from the world and consecrated unto God. And if you are like me, you have come to learn that attempting to do so strictly and solitarily in and of ourselves is just not possible. Reiterating Charles H. Spurgeon, remember that perfect holiness may be compromised by a glance, a thought, or even a desire! Don’t get me wrong, the descriptions of holy living very much remain responsibilities for us, yet it is ONLY through Jesus Christ that such a life of holiness is possible…

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1-2, NIV84).

“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (Colossians 1:21-23, NASB95).

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His Glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24-25, NASB95).

 -Victoria

The Cross: Celebrate and Cheer

With Thanksgiving over, I think it’s safe to say that the Christmas Season has “officially” begun!  Decorations are up, the scent of hot cocoa and cookies are in the atmosphere, and some of us are even excited to strut around in those beloved knit seasonal sweaters (you know who you are)!  In the midst of all the yuletide cheer it can be all too easy to lose sight of the Real Reason for celebration and cheer.

I’d like to share with you a bit of a devotional written by a young man, which recently reminded me of why I can and should celebrate and cheer this and every other season of the year…

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THE CROSS

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'” (Matthew 16:24)

The cross is a symbol of redemption, hope, and victory over sin and death.  “The cross of Christ is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men” (Tozer).  The cross was used to kill, but Christ uses it to give life.

A.W. Tozer said, “[The cross] was permitted to remain what it had been originally, a cross.  Its power departed when it changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty.  When men made of it a symbol, hung in around their necks as an ornament…then it became at best a weak emblem”.

We have hung our crosses around our necks, placed the crucifix atop our beds, we have cried when we watched The Passion of the Christ, and we have become sad when we read the account of the crucifixion during Easter time.  But we have lost the true meaning of the cross.  The cross cannot save us, it’s the man, Jesus, who died on the cross who has the True and Only Power to save us!  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, to save all mankind!

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To think that Christ came to be born of a virgin, living to give His life upon the cross so we might live, is utterly mindboggling.  The power of sin and death over us IS broken!  We don’t have to be slaves to sin- neither its “power”, “pollution”, nor “guilt” are able to keep a hold on us (A.W. Pink)!

Why can (and should) we celebrate and cheer this and every other season of the year…?  Because Christ Jesus, who died on the cross and who has the True Power, has offered Salvation from sin and death to us as a free gift!  WOO HOO!

So as we take up our crosses in obedience to Christ throughout this Christmas and every other season of the year, let us be reminded of why we can follow Christ and do so with celebration and cheer!

-Victoria

amazing!

The Bible School I’m involved in stateside this year is themed, “Amazing Wonders Aviation”.  It’s all about our Amazing God and the evidence of such an Amazing God witnessed through His amazing wonders in the world!  We “fly” (hence the “aviation”) to destinations like Victoria Falls in Africa, the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Paricutin Volcano in Mexico.  We meet such characters as “Miss Mattie Horn”, “Victoria Falls-a-lot”, and Pilot “R. U. Wrong Way”.  Of utmost importance, we learn of God’s  g r e a t e s t   a m a z i n g   w o n d e r ─ our salvation through Jesus Christ!

While I would not hesitate to classify the entire Bible as an awesome testimony of God’s amazing wonders, I would like to mention just one of my favorite accounts here.  It is recorded in The Book of Genesis.  Genesis 6:1-9:29 describes how mankind began to increase in numbers but God was wholeheartedly grieved at their wickedness which was equally increasing.  Then it tells us about one man, Noah who found favor with God in the midst of mounting corruption…and how the world changed forever!

We could probably assume that most of us are familiar with this account.  At one time or another we have likely heard of “Noah’s Ark” or “The Flood” ─ when God informed Noah that He would put an end to all corrupted people because of their relentless and unrepentant wickedness, instructed Noah to construct an ark, and assured Noah that He would establish His covenant with him so he and his family would be spared as they entered the ark (along with the animals God commanded to enter along with them).

There is no doubt that God’s amazing wonders are witnessed in this account as we understand that massive floodwaters ─ UNKOWN, UNSEEN, UNHEARD OF before this point ─ came on the earth…

“[A]ll the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights…The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water…all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered…Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out…Only Noah was left, and those with Him in the ark.” (Genesis 7, NIV84)

We know that it is our Amazing God alone who demonstrates such amazing wonders.  “YOU rule the swelling of the sea” (Ps. 89:9, NASB).  “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey HIM?” (Mk. 4:41, NRSV).  “Behold, HE retains the waters, and they dry up; and HE sends them out, and they inundate the earth” (Job 12:15, NASB).

There is, however, another particular portion of this account in Genesis which I believe especially testifies of God’s amazing wonders.  Nine words back in 6:3 (well, ten words if using the NASB translation, compared to the NIV84)…”[H]is days will be a hundred and twenty years”.  How in the world do these few words testify of God’s amazing wonders?!?  Briefly put, they give us an overt glimpse of the  A m a z i n g   G r a c e  of God!

For a hundred and twenty years, God graciously extended time to the people!  Talk about AMAZING GRACE!  Who besides Amazing God would provide a hundred and twenty years of undeserved warnings and opportunities for the people to repent?

Do you know that even today God is still Amazing and still continues to demonstrate His Amazing Grace?  Do you know that the Bible tells us, “[a]s it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [Jesus Christ]” (Mt. 24:37, NIV84)?  Do you know that the ark which God instructed Noah to build and enter so he would be spared from the destruction of the corrupt symbolizes what salvation through Jesus Christ is?  Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved” (John 10:8, NASB).  By simple reasoning, John 10:8 also informs us that those who   d o   n o t  enter through Jesus Christ   w i l l   n o t   be saved.  Of all the people who were increasing in numbers on the earth,  EIGHT   believed the Word of God and were saved!

Some say that ‘panicked Christians have been wrongly believing for nearly 2,000 years that Jesus is coming back soon’.  So they ignore the warnings and tragically fail to recognize that God has been extending His amazing, yet terribly undeserved, grace in giving us time to repent!  Friend, stop ignoring the warnings, please realize the seriousness of the situation, your soul is at stake!   God has opened wide the door of salvation to you, He has given Jesus Christ to allow you on board.  But He  w i l l  shut the door.  Do not wait until it is too late to realize that you should have believed and entered!

Victoria

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If you are interested receiving in more information about the amazing gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, you can email the True Hope Ministry Team at TrueHopeMinistry@aol.com.

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If you would like to see some of the amazingly exciting things God is doing in Petersburg, Kentucy (greater Cincinnati area) with Answers In Genesis’ Noah’s Ark exhibit, check out http://arkencounter.com/!