Friday, September 30, 2016

The Coming Storm

Fall is so not here yet. Most times as I lament about the never-ending Florida heat when I leave my air conditioned house, I never think about anywhere else. I move along my day. Today is different. While it is still hot, the weather is gorgeous. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and work proceeds as normal. Things are not like this everywhere in the world. Today in Haiti, people are bracing for the worst. Hurricane Matthew, a category 5 storm, will be barreling through their towns and homes by the time this blog posts. They have been decimated by storms and an earthquake over the past few years and here comes one more. As I sit looking outside at the beautiful Florida day, I can’t help but think, and pray, and lament for those who look out their window and fear fills their soul. And as a Christian, I know I must do more. We are called to go, and serve, to pray, to provide financial, physical and spiritual help to those who are consumed within the raging storm. And for those who stand broken afterwards. So please join with me in prayer, and come back to this blog for ways that you can help. Our Haitian and Jamaican brothers and sisters need us. May we go where He has called us.

Rev. Michelle

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Got Heaven?

One of the frequent questions that pastors get asked is this:  “Pastor, Can I know if I’ll go to heaven?”

Allow me to be clear; Yes.  You can know if you are going to live eternally with God in heaven.  I would add, that the only person you can definitively answer this question for – is yourself.

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg was interviewed not long ago.  At the time he sat down for the interview, it was a few days before his 50th college reunion. His mortality has started dawning on him, at age 72 because he noticed how many of his former classmates had shown up on the “in memoriam” pages of the school newsletter rather than with an RSVP.

It became clear, however, that  he has little doubt about his salvation prospects. Pointing to his crusading work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

Perhaps the saddest conversation I have ever had with a congregant is this one I have had at the bedside of a terminal patient: “John, are you at peace?”   “Well Reverend, I just hope that I have done enough good in my life to get in the gate.”  This made me sad because I, and every other pastor in his life, had failed to equip him with the assurance of salvation in faith alone.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Justification (salvation) is an act of God’s free grace. He pardons all of the believer’s sins and counts them righteous not for anything they have done but by the perfect obedience and full atonement of Christ. That atonement is imputed to you and I as a result of faith alone.

“…he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3: 5).

Please realize that the “world” agrees with Mr. Bloomberg who thinks that if you do more good than bad in this life, you can “earn” your place in Heaven.  Please understand that this is NOT what the Bible teaches.

So, what do you believe? That Jesus is the only way or that your good deeds can earn you a place in Heaven?

Salvation begins and ends with Jesus. Nothing more is necessary.  Whoever has faith in Christ needs nothing more.

I am the way - Because Christ is the way, no one has any excuse at all.  Those who confess faith in God, but not in Christ, are wrong.  We do not get to define God as we would like Him to be; Christ is the way.  There is no other.  No other paths lead to God.

the truth - “You Christians think no one else has access to truth.”   Yep, that’s right.  Any other religious discipline that seeks to enable people to draw near to God is false.  God has provided one means for our salvation:  Christ.  If you believe in Him and confess Him as Lord, you know the truth and your salvation is assured.

and the life - Jesus is saying: ‘you will never know what life is until you see it in My eyes.’

No one comes to the Father except through Me. 

--Pastor Jim