Tag Archives: hell

August 21; The Reality

Psalms 102, 120, 137; Lamentation 1-2

Jeremiah looked at the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple in ruins, his neighbors and friends either dragged away into captivity, or starving in the streets. And he was sad.

Yes, he’d warned them that God was going to punish them if they didn’t repent. And when they refused to stop sinning, I’m sure it came at no surprise to the prophet that God did exactly what He’d said He’d do. But I don’t think even Jeremiah knew how bad God’s judgment would be.

I don’t think we do, either.

Most of us know there is a heaven and a hell. John, in his vision, tries to describe a reality more wonderful than we can imagine, an unspeakably amazing eternity with God. But Scripture also tells us there is another reality for those who reject God.

As unspeakably wonderful as heaven is, hell is unspeakably horrible. That reality without God is worse than anything we can imagine.  I just don’t believe any of us know how bad God’s judgment will be for those who die in their sin.

Read these chapters in Lamentations. Feel the despair, the loneliness, the utter hopelessness. See the filth and the horror. And know hell is an eternity much worse.

I think if we really allowed ourselves to get a glimpse of the reality of hell, we wouldn’t go to bed tonight until we shared Jesus with our loved ones, with passion and urgency. Jeremiah’s heart was broken by the suffering he saw in the people who had refused to obey God.

Dear God, break my heart over the same reality.

March 21; Do You Want The Good News First, Or The Bad?

Deuteronomy 27-28

So the first thing the Israelites were to do after they’d crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land had to do with the Law. Moses instructed them to erect the equivalent of a modern-day billboard, and carve God’s Commandments clearly enough for everyone to see. Their occupation of that land came with conditions. Their future depended on them obeying God’s Law.

God gave them the good news first. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commandments… all these blessings will come upon you…” (28:1-2) Then He proceeds to describe what life would be life for God’s obedient children:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock – the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. (vv 3-6)

It doesn’t even stop there. Victory over enemies, full barns, nations recognizing the fact they are God’s holy people, abundant prosperity…

I’d pick door number one!

Because beginning in verse 15, God describes in gruesome detail what life would be like if they chose disobedience over obedience.

You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country. Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed. The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out. (vv16-19)

Oh, it gets worse. Much worse. From devastating losses in battle, to awful diseases, to broken relationships, barren land and famine, such suffering that cannibalism would be the only means of survival.

There’s more. It’s just too awful.

God spent fourteen verses talking about the blessings for obedience. He took 53 verses to warn them about the consequences for disobedience.

I’m reminded God does not want ANYONE going to hell. He takes no delight in the death of an unrepentant sinner. He is desperate for us to know the truth about what is ahead.

The blessings speak for themselves. You know what I mean, if you’ve given your heart to the Lord, and are careful to follow His rules. The blessings are there! It’s the bad news God wants to make clear.

If you think what we read in chapter 28 is bad, you’ve seen only a glimpse of eternity without God. Only the first day of eternity in hell.

The good news is that God is so desperate, so driven to have us with Him, He came to earth Himself and paid the price for all our sin. When we accept His gift of grace, when we follow Him and choose to obey, He opens the floodgates of blessing. Our enemy is defeated, our sins are forgiven, we experience love and joy and peace like never before. And we know for certain that no matter what happens in this life, what comes next will knock our socks off.

And because God is so desperate that no one die without Him, He wants you to know what it is you are choosing when you choose to deny Him, As you read what God said to Israel here in chapter 28, put yourselves in their shoes. Feel the pain, the humiliation, the fear. Feel what it would be like if God removed Himself, no longer tried to get your attention. Realize the desperation, the anguish, the abandonment that comes from disobedience.

Then understand that without following God, there is no hope for mercy. No possibility of relief. Ever.

The bad news… the really bad news is…

Eternity is a very long time to be without God, my friend.

 

February 20; Not Diseased Any More

Leviticus 13:47-15:33

Don’t read these chapters while you are eating. It’s pretty disgusting to read about leprosy and mold and body fluids with a spoonful of cereal in your mouth. Trust me.

But don’t let that stop you from reading these chapters. God has some serious warnings, and a beautiful promise for us to hear through His Word today.

Scripture often uses leprosy or disease as a physical picture of the effects of sin in our lives. (Ps 147:3; Isaiah 1:5-6; etc.) So as I read chapter 13 I see that sin goes deep into our souls. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us:

The heart is deceitful above all and desperately wicked. 

Paul even said in Romans 7:18:

For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) no good thing dwells.

If you believe in the innate goodness of humanity, you would be wrong.

The diseased person was considered unclean, and anyone coming in contact would also be considered unclean. So lepers were forced to live in isolation, outside the city. Even then, if a person would come near, the leper had to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn them not to get too close.

The Bible tells us sin isolates us. Oh, we may enjoy hanging out with other sinners, but your sin is your sin, your hangover your hangover, your venereal disease destroying your body. And, be warned: Hell is the ulitmate isolation. Don’t count on receiving an invitation to a party there. Don’t expect to even be chained to the wall next to your buddy. Your sin, your choice to isolate yourself from God, will isolate you from everyone and everything, including God, for eternity. Not into nothingness, but into an eternal state of knowing you are unclean, and without hope.

Don’t stop reading with chapter 13. There is a sweet picture in chapter 14 of forgiveness, of cleansing. I love how the former leper is pronounced clean. It’s a description of Jesus Himself; confined to a clay jar of flesh and bones, blood shed and applied, then He rose again! It’s also a picture of me: bound in a clay jar of sin, accepting the blood of my precious Savior, and free to fly, free from the disease of sin!

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) That’s a promise you can count on!

Oh, another thing. Notice in chapter 14 the priest went to the leper. The priest defied the “Do Not Touch” order and went to where the leper was. Does that remind you of anyone?

I love Jesus so much!

Chapter 15 reminds me of my responsibility to others. There is nothing sinful about bowel movements, sex between a husband and wife, (or a sneeze). But allowing myself to do those things without cleaning up, can be harmful to those with whom I have contact. It involves a washing every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

God tells us to be holy, like He is holy. That doesn’t involve a bath, or baptism, at some point then assuming you’re fixed for life. Every time God points out a blemish, a sin, I need to throw it under the blood. I need to repent, receive His forgiveness, let Him clean me up. And once that is done, I am not diseased any more. And I need have no fear of spreading the disease of sin to anyone else.

Thank you, God for drawing us this picture in Your Word. Some of the details of the diseases, the creeping crud, the body fluid are disgusting. But I’m reminded sin disgusts you even more. Thank you also for the picture of forgiveness in the two birds used for the cleansing ceremony. Thank you for the truth that once I was lost, diseased, disgusting, I am found, heal, and holy in your sight because of what Jesus did for me. I love you!

 

 

Daniel 5-6; Parenting In The Lions’ Den

My Mom and Dad used to love taking their young grandchildren on adventures. One of their favorite destinations was the Columbus Zoo.

Dad said that one time, while visiting the lion exhibit, my nephew who was about three at the time, got the attention of one of the adult lions. Ryan walked up to the thick glass wall, and the lion met him there, face to face. Ryan walked a few steps to the right, the lion followed. Ryan walked to the left, the lion followed. It soon became a game between boy and lion, and the crowd of people at the exhibit laughed at the silliness.

“Isn’t that cute? The lion likes the boy.”

“Yeah,” my dad said. “For dinner.”

That lion wasn’t playing a game of follow-the-leader with the boy. That lion was stalking its prey. And only the glass wall prevented my nephew from being torn to pieces and savagely eaten by the wild beast.

Do you remember Roy Horn of Seigfried and Roy, entertainers who used white tigers in their act? Roy raised those animals from a young age. He treated them like kittens, loved them, played with them. They were his pets.

But one night, one of those “pets” savagely grabbed Roy around the neck, and began to drag him off stage. Roy sustained life threatening injuries, and his life has never been the same.

A wild animal is not a character in a Disney cartoon.

Throwing Daniel into the lions’ den was sentencing the man to an awful, violent, and terrifying death. But we know he didn’t die.

The story doesn’t end there, however. Darius, the king who had been tricked into condemning Daniel, had the men who deceived him thrown into the den of lions. He sentenced those jealous, evil, conniving low-lifes to the same death they’d planned for Daniel.

Now if that was the extent of it, I’d say they got what they deserved. But the Bible tells us Darius didn’t stop with the men who’d plotted against Daniel. The king had their wives and children thrown into the lions’ den as well. Their wives and children met with the same gruesome end as the men.

I can hear you shouting, “NOT FAIR.”

I’m not going to try to argue that except to say, if you read this you’ll not see God tell Darius to kill those people.  I know the God of the Bible takes no pleasure in people dying without Him. He doesn’t want anyone to suffer the agony of hell. In fact, He paid the awful, violent, and terrifying death we all deserve.

But the Bible is also clear: the guilty will not go unpunished. Hell is real. And people who die without honoring God really do go there.

Here’s what occurred to me today: Many people – maybe you although I pray not – are ignoring God, or disobeying Him. Some deny Him or defy Him. The Bible tells us if that’s the case – be prepared for an awful, violent, terrifying existence for eternity, knowing you had a chance to avoid it all.

But I want to ask you – how many of your loved ones are you willing to take down with you?

You might brag like a post I read on FaceBook recently, “Yeah, I’m going to hell, and enjoying every step of the way.” But what is that message saying to your children? You do know, don’t you, that you are the single greatest influence on your children for the good or for the bad.

You might be appalled at the story here in Daniel, when you are doing the exact same thing. Your life does have an effect on your loved ones… an eternal effect. You may be foolishly willing to go to hell. Just understand that that precious child in your lap is watching you, imitating you, learning to think and believe like you.

It’s NOT FAIR of YOU to take them with you.

December 30 – Doomed

Revelation 12-18

The Book of Revelation is a book of hope for Christians. In His revelation to John, God tells us to hold on to Him. Life will be hard. But if we remain on God’s side – we win.

But reading these chapters also makes me sad for those who reject Him. Oh, they might appear to have some victories here and there during this lifetime. But they are doomed.

It makes me sad that, as I read the imagery of the seven bowls of wrath, people continue to reject God, even when His power and authority are demonstrated in undeniable ways. Read chapter 16 and see them scorched with fierce heat, and blaspheming God. Or gnawing their tongues because of pain, and refusing to repent. Or blaspheming God even when hundred pound hailstones are falling on their heads.

Over and over God reveals Himself: nature declares His glory, Jesus reveals God in the flesh, changed lives, strength in weakness, joy in sorrow.

God nudges, and woos lost people. He also disciplines and pours out His wrath to get their attention. I see a God who is not willing that anyone die without Him, and who will go to any lengths to win each and every one while they still draw breath.

But, hear me. Those who take that last breath without accepting what God offers through His Son are doomed. There are no do-overs, no second chances in eternity. What you choose in this lifetime makes all the difference.

Christian, as you read the book of Revelation with me, let’s rejoice in the truth that God is the ultimate authority. That Satan’s defeat is inevitable. And that God is preparing a place for us to spend eternity with Him in more glory and splendor than we can imagine.

But if you don’t know Jesus as your Savior, I pray that you will begin the new year on the winning side. God is going to be true to His Word. One day, at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow.. That means you, dear one. EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is who He says He is. Like it or not, you will recognize that you are doomed without Him. Please don’t let that happen.

Holy God, thank You for giving this revelation to John. We can see that the war between You and Satan is played out here on planet Earth. And we can see that You are the victor! God, I am so glad I am counted as Yours, that You are fighting my battles right this minute, and that one day I am going to heaven to be with You. Father, I pray for those who don’t yet call You Lord. May they humble themselves, repent of sin, and accept your gift of Grace through Your Son, Jesus. I pray that no one reading this blog will meet you in eternity doomed.

November 17 – We Must… I Did

Acts 4-6

Last night my pastor shared some thoughts from Paul’s letter to Titus. He pointed out that the grace of God starts at salvation, but doesn’t end there. God’s grace instructs us to live godly lives and to look for Christ’s return. God’s grace reveals Jesus who redeems and purifies His children, who then become “zealous for good deeds.”

Then Paul says in Titus 2:15:

These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

The pastor challenged us to be zealous in talking about Jesus. If we really believe what Peter said in Acts 4:12, that there is no other salvation than in the name of Jesus, that our family and friends will go to hell without Him, then how can we remain silent?

The high priest warned Peter and John to stop talking about Jesus or bad things would happen to them. Peter answered:

We must obey God rather than man. (5:29)

Then Peter proceeded to talk to the high priest about Jesus. That’s zeal!

There are some people in our world today who continue to name the name of Jesus with a black hood over their heads, and machetes at their necks. We don’t face that threat yet in this country. But I wonder if we’re allowing ourselves to be bullied into silence, anyway.

God is asking me, and maybe asking you, who it is we are obeying. I don’t face a threat on my life if I talk about Jesus. But do I let public opinion handcuff me, am I afraid of stepping on toes, do I allow Satan’s voice to stop me from talking about Jesus because he’s convinced me my friend isn’t interested, or that I won’t know what to say?

Who cares? If I really believe that Jesus is the only salvation, and that anyone who doesn’t know Him as Savior will spend ETERNITY IN HELL…

then I must be zealously sharing Him every chance I get. I must make opportunities to talk about Jesus. I must ask the hard questions of my unsaved loved ones.

I must obey God and forget what man thinks about me.  Because in the end, I won’t be accountable to the United States government on that day. I will be accountable to God, however.

And when I look Jesus in the eye, I want… because of God’s grace… to be able to say that Paul’s “We must…” became my “I did.”

 

 

 

October 26 – I Never Knew You

Luke 12-13

Will God really send good people to hell? Certainly there won’t be preachers and Sunday School teachers there, right? Won’t people who volunteer at the homeless shelters, those who never lie or cheat, people who are kind and thoughtful, get a free pass?

I can promise you, according to Scripture, that God will not send one holy person to hell. There will not be one sinless person in that fire. Zero.

But Jesus said that some of the people who were following Him, who heard His teachings, will knock on the door of heaven only to hear God say, “You can’t come in. I never knew you.”

The World Series started last night. My brother-in-law and nephew were there, amid thousands of people wearing their Indians’ shirts and hats, and waving their red towels to cheer on the home team. Thousands of people stood at the same exciting moments, chanted the same words, praised the same players, complained about the same umps, and most of them had 100% of their attention on that field.

But I only know two of the thousands of people who were at that game. Many people dressed like my loved ones. Many acted like them, even said the same things my loved ones said. But if all of those baseball fans knocked on my door, I’d only let two of them in.

Now some of the opposition were easily detected. They were the ones in the light blue shirts. They were not Indian fans. Their clothes were different and they cheered at different times in the game. They neither looked nor acted like my loved ones. So if they came to my door, I could weed them out easily.

But it’s the rest of them, the ones who looked and acted like my loved ones that aren’t so easily detected. But not knowing them, I wouldn’t let them in, either, even if they looked the part.

Looking like a Christian, learning to talk like a Christian, doing Christian things, doesn’t mean God knows you. Jesus tells us the only way the Father can know any of us is if we go through Him. His blood. His forgiveness. His Way.

And only those whom God knows will be welcomed into eternity with Him.

Does He know You?