I have unsaved family members. I assume you do as well. If you are like me, you have prayed for their salvation and have asked others to do the same. We think about them once in a while and pray for them as we shake our heads wondering why they just don’t get it.
Not long ago I was driving down the road, once again praying for my lost family, just nonchalantly mentioning their names to God and I felt myself being frustrated with him for not acting, not showing any movement in their lives at all. What is he waiting for? “Do a work in their heart and save them already!”
You may have learned this (I am often a slow learner), yelling at God to “Do something!” often has a way of backfiring on you. I remember the question coming back at me like a brick. “How serious are you? You barely bow your head as you ask me to move in the lives of the people you say you love. You spend more time and money on your own pleasures than on ministering to those you claim to love. You drink up the Living Waters greedily when those near you are dying of thirst. You say you love my Word, but have not yet put these Words of Life into the hands of those that are lost. YOU tell me to do something? How bad do you really want this?”
I cry even as I type these words. No, God did not speak these words to me, but he was certainly doing heart surgery on me at that moment. He was cutting me deep and it hurt. There is often pain in truth. What work have I done or sacrifices have I made to encourage my lost family toward Christ? Very little.
The apostle Paul was willing to give everything up to save those he loved, even his own salvation! He had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart for them. “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsman according to the flesh.” – Romans 9:3. I am so far from this mindset it is sad.
Often times the work that needs to be done before God opens the heart of someone to believe is the work that needs completed in us. Sometimes God tarries in others so that he can teach and refine us first.
I have started to get serious about interceding for my unsaved family who currently stand condemned to Hell (John 3:18). No more sugar coating it. No more avoiding the uncomfortable. They are on the burn list.
My plan involves times of planned prayer, fasting and engaging in more direct conversations. If you want specifics, just ask and I will be glad to share. My husband and I have also committed to getting Bibles into the hands of our family and to provide guidance on how to read it.
You can be sure this involves loads of boldness on our part; am I nervous? Oh my yes, but this is part of the work in my heart that needs done. It goes along with the questions, “How serious are you? How badly do you want it?” To be sure, our wanting does not make it happen, it is only by God’s irresistible grace and his perfect calling, but I will do all I can to be usable by God in this area.
As Charles Spurgeon said, "If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”
If you have loved ones who are walking toward Hell and currently stand condemned, I enCOURAGE you to decide that now is the time to get serious and be bold, share Christ with them and pray for them like never before.
I may seem like a very mild-mannered, gentle lady, but sit down across from me at a board game, deck of cards or anything slightly competitive and you will see a whole other side to me. Just ask my husband what I’m like to play Ping-Pong or air hockey with. I just love winning. You get to see a glimpse of this today.
Several years ago a former pastor of mine who liked using football analogies said in a sermon that there were no sidelines in life; everyone is on the field playing on one team or the other. Being someone who also loves football, the visual stuck with me.
No sidelines, no benchwarmers, no plank riders. Everyone in the world is on the field playing for one side or the other at this very moment.
People like to think that they are “on the fence” and undecided about this Jesus person. When they are ready, they will make the choice to take him or leave him. The truth is found in John 3:18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
If not currently playing on God’s team, you stand condemned just as you are (on the other side of the ball). By not making the decision to follow Christ, you have decided against him. You are wearing Satan’s jersey and fighting side by side with demons. This puts you in a very dangerous position; you are fighting against God as his enemy (James 4:4). The wrath of God remains on those who do not obey him (John 3:36).
For those who have been drafted and have decided to accept and follow Jesus, are you an active player or more of an obstacle to work around? Are you following the playbook (the Bible) God gave you to equip you and sustain you? Are you talking to the only one who can help you through the struggles of offense and defense?
C’mon, Ladies, this ain’t no powder puff game! Put the eye black on and get in on the action. Fight for your God and the teammates around you. Put all you have on the line for the one who gave his life so you could be his and have eternal life with him in glory.
The awesome part of all this is knowing Jesus has already won the victory for us. He accomplished this long ago on the cross. He allows us to share in this victory if we accept what he has done for us. I plan to be a part of God’s team and do all I can to increase our team numbers for the glory of God. Hey, I told you I love winning.
This game does not last forever, there is an end coming. The losers get an all-expenses paid team bus trip to Hell. The winners get to go to Paradise to live with Jesus. This seems like quite the easy decision to me.
As the football hype peaks this weekend, let it be a reminder to you to check your jersey. Make sure you are playing for the winning side and being an active participant. I may talk like this is a game, but it is a matter of eternal joy or eternal torture. Don’t allow Satan’s heavy, stinky jersey to stay on you another second, the Hell bus is warming up. Rip it off and choose Jesus. He will make you into a new creation and give you the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within you. Yes, it is a very nice recruiting package indeed.
I have already offended many of you with just with my title alone, but I don’t believe there is R.I.P. or “rest in peace” after death. This phrase alleges that after you die you can relax and take it easy after the busy or painful life you left behind. Like you can finally take that nice long nap you have always wanted. What a great picture for the rest of us left on Earth to imagine, it simply makes us feel better about this whole dying thing.
So here’s my beef, the Word of God tells us that there are only two options after death and neither involves nap time.
Option 1: Easy Street to Hell - This is the more popular option and many take this route. I hesitate to say (because it hurts) that the vast majority decide to take this option. This road is well paved and easy to travel on. It has been used many times before and will be very comfortable. You will have many friends and family traveling this road with you. It is nice and broad and can accommodate a wide variety of people. Don’t just take my word for it, Matthew 7:13, “…For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.”
The main problem with option 1 is the final destination, which is Hell. Hell is a real place. Here are just a few descriptions you may find in the brochure:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:9
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:50
And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11
So if you go with option 1, there will be no resting in peace. You will be too busy weeping and gnashing your teeth in the tormenting darkness away from the Lord, never allowed to close your eyes in sleep again.
Option 2: Hard and Rocky Road to Heaven - This is a much less popular option and not many choose it. The path that leads to Heaven is narrow and difficult. Matthew 7:14 – “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” The trail is bumpy and usually doesn’t seem to make sense. There are twists and turns, ups and downs. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one on it. Your friends don’t understand why you would choose such a path; it doesn’t make any sense to them. Many times the path can be dangerous. But then there is the final destination…Heaven!
Now if you think you are going to rest in Heaven, you are oh so mistaken. The last thing on your mind will be rest. You will be so energized by being in the presence of your Savior that you will never want to close your eyes again. You will never be able to get enough of Jesus and you will be too full of joy, love and yes, peace to take a nap. Trust me…it won’t even cross your mind.
So there is no R.I.P. in the worldly way of looking at things; no naptime and no eternal slumber. But you can have rest from your struggles and know true peace by being with your Savior in Heaven. In Heaven there will be no more troubles, fear, pain, or cancer. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4. This is a solid promise from God, but only for those who are in Heaven. Only those who have travelled the narrow path while here on Earth.
So, how do you find the narrow path? Well, for starters, it’s not a place, it is a person. John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. The narrow path we must travel is directly in step with our savior, Jesus Christ. We must believe in him and receive him and then are given the gift of being adopted as a child of God (John1:12). When you are part of the family you get to live where the Father lives, in Heaven.
Whether you know it or not, you are already on one of these paths. Check under your feet, are you planted on the solid rock of Jesus Christ or are you just “going with the flow”, agreeing with the world and strolling along Easy Street toward Hell? Choose quickly and choose wisely, your final destination matters.