Archive for October, 2015

Knowledge is acquired information. Intelligence is the ability to use that information to your advantage. Wisdom is learning not to destroying yourself or others in the process.” – Anonymous

In Greek mythology, there are tales of a sacred spring located in the land of Pieria, a region of ancient Macedonia. According to the myth, drinking the Pierian Spring waters would impart great knowledge and inspiration. Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744), one of the great English poets of the eighteenth century, popularized the mythological spring in his 1711 poem entitled An Essay on Criticism,

“A little learning is a dang’rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again”

Pope was expounding upon the danger of shallow learning (or knowledge). Merely sipping on information can be intoxicating as it will make you feel like you know a great deal more than you really do. However, drinking deeply has a sobering effect as you become more and more aware of your own ignorance.

Socrates (469-399 B.C.) the classical Greek philosopher once said, The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” Ponder that for a moment. Actually, the point here is very simple; we really don’t know very much. And that my dear friend is why we must keep learning.

He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” – George Bernard Shaw

Some say that ignorance is the only true path to contentment. According to them, the more you know, the more you realize how happy you were being clueless. Okay, who has not reminisced a time or two about the idyllic days of our youth? So what happened? We grew up. Slowly, as our knowledge increased, we entered the sometimes dark and painful days of adult life. Truthfully, ignorance is NOT bliss – especially when it is used as an excuse to falsely justify apathy. Real joy and peace of mind is seldom found in blithe stupidity.

And then there are those who emphasize spiritual knowledge while shunning intellectual learning. They see the secular and the sacred as somehow mutually exclusive. As a practicing Christian, my faith in God does not require me to abandon practical learning. In life, there are problems to be solved and pitfalls to be avoided. Everyday knowledge is useful – if not vital – while we live in the physical world. But remember, our hopes must never hang upon finite human achievement. No matter the zeniths of mankind’s knowledge, I will always place my absolute trust in the infinite wisdom of the Divine Spirit – the Creator of all things.

But what happens when mankind’s ever increasing empirical, academic and scientific knowledge leads to runaway human arrogance? Can an inability to recognize the inadequacies of our imperfect mortal achievements lead to many dangers and even destruction?

Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) once said, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing – but so is a lot.” You know what? I think he was right. In an age of “info-mania” with most of humanity swept up in the vortex of intellectual and technological advancement, an increasing dependency on human knowledge alone can be very dangerous indeed. The prospects of an unchecked knowledge explosion in the hands of people who may have questionable motives or little regard for moral boundaries and restraint is frightening.  While the pursuit of knowledge can yield many blessings, its misuse can become a curse.  Quoting Einstein once again, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”  He made this observation more than 60 years ago.  I can only imagine what his reflections would be if he were alive today.

Just look around. We live in a time of extraordinary achievements – the information age – modern marvels. Many of these advancements have improved our quality of life immensely. I am certainly not anti-progress. But, what has the knowledge explosion really cost our nation and the world? Traditions and morality continue to fall by the wayside. Our once cherished values are almost meaningless. Vanity is now celebrated as a virtue. Religion is trampled underfoot. Self-absorption is a doctrine and perversions of every kind are the new norms.

The more the fruits of knowledge become accessible to men, the more widespread is the decline of religious belief” – Sigmund Freud

John Bertram Phillips (1906 – 1982) was an English Bible scholar, translator, author and clergyman, perhaps best known for his translation of the scriptures – The New Testament in Modern English. Dr. Phillips sheds some keen insight in his rendering of a passage in the New Testament book of Romans. Here, the apostolic writer Paul is addressing the Christian community living in ancient Rome:

3-8 “As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.  (Romans 12:3)

Hmmm. A well-balanced assessment of who we are. The ancient Greeks had an aphorism (concise statement) that you may have heard – “know thyself.”  The only way to really know ourselves is to know the one who made us. Learn the truth about God – who he really is and what really happened to his creation – and you will begin to know and understand who you really are.

I once read that the first diamond found in South Africa was picked up off the ground by a farm boy who took it home for his sisters to play with. He had no idea what it was. To him it was just another pretty stone. I wonder how many people are just like that little boy.  A treasure more valuable than a priceless diamond is within their grasp. The wisdom and knowledge of the Almighty Creator of this present reality is hidden in the sacred texts of scripture. And yet, that knowledge is seen as worthless by some due to a lack of understanding.

12 “But though men can do all these things, they don’t know where to find wisdom and understanding. 13 They not only don’t know how to get it, but, in fact, it is not to be found among the mortals. – (Job 28:12-13).

You can of course, in your arrogance, reject every word I have written today. But that doesn’t change a thing. There isn’t an opt-out clause in the bible. You are and you always will be subject to the truth. If God is all knowing than his knowledge is perfect.  He is therefore absolute truth. For that reason, what He chooses to reveal to humanity is the truth for all of mankind.   However, if ignorance is your bliss, enjoy yourself. But remember, Truth always triumphs in the end. There will come a day of reckoning.

It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” – John Locke

As a follower of the Liberator Jesus and a believer in the only wise God, the path before me is now certain. I have resigned the perfunctory practice of mere religion so that I can live my life in true freedom under God’s Amazing Grace. My knowledge grows with each passing day. His Divine Spirit enables me to see his principles and precepts in pure focus. His wisdom is now my goal; for it is by wisdom that I know how and when to apply the knowledge he has caused me to understand.

7“Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment (understanding).” (Proverbs 4:7)

May we pray? Almighty God, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24) and please Lord, “Give me understanding, and I shall live” (Psalm 119:144) and help me to grow each day in wisdom even as I learn to walk in your ways. (Psalm 111:10). Amen

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.  For more information write to:
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Even on your worst days you are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s amazing grace. And on your best days you are never so good that you’re beyond the need of God’s grace.”  – Anonymous

Perched along the Anclote River at the end of Dodecanese Boulevard in picturesque Tarpon Springs, Florida is Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill, one of my preferred writing (and lunchtime) destinations. Besides the sumptuous seafood served in a friendly, casual, “TIKI” atmosphere, the waterfront location provides amazing views of the Anclote River complete with breathtaking sunsets. For me, Rusty Bellies has become a quick slice of “workday” paradise, just a short drive from my home – a genuine Inspiration Point.

And so there I was, sitting at my regular table, noshing on fresh Grouper skewers over black beans and rice while writing and occasionally chewing the fat with a few acquaintances. This one guy in particular kept making negative comments about himself. I really didn’t know him very well, but he seemed nice enough. Still, I couldn’t help but notice his frequent self-abasing remarks. He seemed to be obsessed with his shortcomings and failures. It is one thing to be humble – dead to self – quite another to stew in the crock pot of self-loathing.

When he finally summed up his life as a wasted, worthless and godforsaken existence, I could not contain myself any further. I looked straight at him and said, “Every human being is born with a copy of the Creator’s master blueprint flashed upon the fabric of his human spirit. God doesn’t forsake us! But, we can and often do desert him. We are all born into a world of wickedness (sin). In time, our fallen nature takes control of our lives, we mess up and thus we are all in desperate need of the Great Designer’s amazing grace. That is why He sent a liberator to the earth.”

Yea, the guy just stared at me. Uncomfortably. And for a moment I felt a bit awkward myself, wondering what to do next. He needed to know the Truth. So I told him even more about the Liberator Jesus and His power to set mankind free.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.”  – C. S. Lewis, (1898-1963)

Have you ever felt like this gentleman? Stuck in a funk of disappointment, hopelessness; maybe even despair? Look, I have made a myriad of mistakes in my life. Regrets?  I’ve had a few. Missed opportunities? You bet! But I have decided that wallowing in self-pity is not the way to handle my problems, especially in the light of what is written about us humans in the ancient scriptures,

13 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!” – Psalm 139:13-16 TLB

The Creator knew every detail of our lives before we were born – the good, bad and ugly. As we grow older, it’s easy to look at our cumulative mistakes and think that we’ve diminished our usefulness to God. Listen, no life is so messed up, so broken, so imperfect that the great Designer can’t fix it.

God loves the human race. He may hate our sin but he loves the sinner. He may allow the consequences of sin to manifest in our lives, but He still loves the sinner. However, one day his Divine love and mercy must give way to his Divine Justice and the final judgement of everyone who refuses the free gift of His liberating grace. Consider yourself warned.

The next time that you look at someone and think, “they seem to have it all together”, remember this: we all wrestle with personal brokenness, mistakes, and hurts.  There is not one person on spaceship earth who isn’t struggling in some way.

Most of the appearance of mirth in the world is not mirth, it is art. The wounded spirit is not seen, but walks under a disguise.”  – Bishop Robert South, (1634-1716)

There are numerous examples of broken people in the Bible for whom God had a plan – even when they seemed to be “hopeless cases.”

  • Esther was an orphan girl living with her cousin.  In the culture of her day, she had three things working against her; she was a Jew in a hostile land, a women and an orphan girl. Hopeless?  God used Esther to save the Jewish nation.
  • Joseph was sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery.  Later he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into jail.  At that moment, his life sure seemed hopeless and useless.  God eventually raised him up to a great leadership position and used him to save his people from a 7 year-long famine.
  • Job lost his children and all of his wealth.  His body became covered with boils and oozing soars. His wife walked out on him when he needed her the most.  Hopeless?  Sounds like a lost cause to me. But without knowing it, Job was proving false the accusations Satan made about him to God. Eventually Job was restored and blessed abundantly.  His life and actions have provided comfort and encouragement to people who are struggling, even to this day.
  • The Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well was a mess.  She had been married 5 times and then didn’t bother to marry the 6th man in her life.  She was a social outcast and appeared to be a hopeless loser.  Jesus spoke with her, exposed her true condition and offered her His living water. As a result, God used her to bring the Samaritan people the Gospel and many in her town were converted.
  • Peter denied Jesus three times.  The shame he felt must have been overwhelming.  When Jesus saw Peter after the resurrection, He didn’t scold him.  He asked Peter to spread the Good News of mankind’s liberation to others.  Jesus knew the real Peter.
  • Paul had a reputation for killing people that followed the teaching of the Liberator Jesus. He actually thought he was doing God a favor. So, Jesus confronted him as an extraordinary light on the road to Damascus. The incident left him shaken and temporarily blind. Paul later became a hand-picked convert and was responsible for setting up the early churches. His writings make up nearly half of the New Testament.

Every one of us has a purpose. God formed us; He knows every hair on our head (Luke 12:7). Our faces and personalities are well-known to Him.  It doesn’t matter how far away we have wandered, He never forgets who we are.  His love for us reaches to the far corners of this earth and to the depths of the ocean.  He does all He can to bring us back home to Himself whenever we go astray.  And when we ask for His forgiveness, He doesn’t keep a record of our failures.   In His great mercy He sees the beautiful person He created.   God doesn’t see the mess we’ve made; He sees a diamond in the rough – a work in progress.

If the Lord be with us, we have no cause of fear. His eye is upon us, His arm over us, and His ear open to our prayer–His grace sufficient, His promises unchangeable.”  – John Newton, (1725-1807)

Broken people are not rubbish to God.  Whatever the state of our affairs, God loves us.  He sees the value in each of us.  He knows the gifts he has placed within our DNA.  As his workmanship, we are continually modeled by his Divine hands into a new creation based on His original and marvelous design.

 10 “For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].”  – Ephesians. 2:10 AMP

GOD DOES NOT MAKE JUNK…

Almighty God, we confess our faults to you. We have messed up; but we can depend on your faithfulness to forgive our many failures, making us blameless in your sight. Our hope rests upon the Liberator Jesus. He paid our ransom and set us free. Help us as we journey along life’s road until the day of our final walk on the trip back home. We ask this all in the name of Jesus – our kinsman redeemer. AMEN.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Whatever happened to HOPE? Surveying the populous landscape, I see so many people living in a tormenting spiral of futility. When someone feels hopeless, it is difficult and often impossible for them to find the way out of challenging circumstances. This leads to a great sense of emptiness and even helplessness. I confess, there are days when I too have felt the talons of hopelessness griping me, trying to become a stronghold in my life.

12 “Hopes deferred make the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy” (alt: “it is a tree of life.”) Proverbs 13:12 (The Living Bible)

Unrelenting disappointment can make us feel sick inside. You could interpret Proverbs 13:12 as “Hope deferred is spiritual heart disease.” On the other hand, when our hopes become a reality we are full of joy. A dream come true fuels the life force within us.

Hope is like a circus high-wire. Faith walks the tightrope of hope, bridging the gap between the unseen world and the world which our conciseness can perceive. Without hope, our faith is insufficient and unproductive. Hopeless people often become faithless people. On the other hand, hopeful people are more likely to be faith-filled people.

1”Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 3By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.” Hebrews 11:1, 3 (Amplified Bible)

Faith can only reassure us of “the things we Hope for.” It serves as proof of what we cannot see. By our faith we recognize as real fact what is not yet revealed to the senses. For example, faith enables our minds to accept as an absolute fact that the whole construct of time and space (the world which we perceive as reality) was set in motion by God through principles which are invisible to us right now. Wow!

When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.” – Charles A Allen

There is no shortage of hurts, sicknesses, troubles, and financial woes in our world today. Family problems, challenging marriages, catastrophic issues and geopolitical concerns abound. As a result, people everywhere are losing their hope and ability to trust. It is my opinion that our society suffers greatly as a result of silent desperation.

So what exactly is hope?  According to the dictionary, HOPE is to desire something with an expectation of obtainment. Hopeful people live with anticipation not disenchantment.  When we have hope, we have an expectancy that the things we hope for (and dream of) will one day be a reality.  Hope enables us to find purpose and meaning in life. And when we add faith to our expectations (by putting our trust in God) our hopes gain substance (Hebrews 11:1).

Trusting in the Almighty unseen Spirit is more than just a blind leap.  Because we have hope, we intentionally place our faith (absolute trust) in God expecting an answer from Him.  Look at what happened to a miserable crippled man as recorded in the New Testament Book of Acts,

1-4”One afternoon Peter and John were on their way to the Temple for the three o’clock hour of prayer. A man who had been lame from birth was being carried along in the crowd, for it was the daily practice to put him down at what was known as the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from the people as they went in. As this man saw Peter and John just about to enter he asked them to give him something. Peter looked intently at the man and so did John. Then Peter said, “Look straight at us!” The man looked at them expectantly, hoping that they would give him something. “If you are expecting silver or gold,” Peter said to him, “I have neither, but what I have I will certainly give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7-11 Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once his feet and ankle bones were strengthened, and he positively jumped to his feet, stood, and then walked. Then he went with them into the Temple, where he walked about, leaping and thanking God.” (Acts 3:1-11 Phillips)

Peter and John had a supernatural ability working through them. Because of the Liberator Jesus, they believed in Almighty God without question. They also knew that His authority was with them and his power would flow through them.  Peter made sure that the lame man was paying attention. He said, “Look straight at us!” For his part, the lame man did two things. First, “he asked them to give him something.” Second, he looked at them “expectantly.”

It’s amazing what can happen when we focus our attention in the right place and ask with expectancy! Clearly the lame man was imagining he’d get a few coins for his troubles. But God doesn’t offer just momentary relief from our distresses. He delivers remedies for them as well – not always as quickly as we would like and sometimes the “fix” may not be what we want. Have you had a rise up and walk moment lately?

What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.” – Rick Warren

The bible also records details about the extraordinary life of a man named David. Through many difficulties and adversities, David would often remind himself not to lose hope.

Here are a few of David’s prayers to God:

  • “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.” (Psalm 39: 7 NIV)
  • “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42: 11 NIV)
  • “Show me the path where I should walk, O LORD; point out the right road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” (Psalm 25: 4, 5 NLT)
  • “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 33: 18 NIV
  • “But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,” (Psalm 25: 3 NIV)
  • “Remember your promise to me, for it is my only hope.” (Psalm 119: 49 NLT)

Israel’s legendary King David expected God to keep His promises. That hope is what empowered him to trust God completely. Today, our hope is built upon the trust we place in the Divine Spirit (God) as a result of the teachings of the Liberator Jesus. His mission was to reveal the truth about God and to implement the plan of redemption for mankind. Getting to know who Jesus really was (and is) and why he visited this little water world, brings hope into your life and it keeps that hope alive.

And PLEASE, don’t go by your feelings. Your emotional state changes like the weather. People who live by their emotions are much more prone to instability. No matter how miserable your existence may seem, there is ALWAYS hope. You may not be able to see or feel anything that causes you to believe this right now, but hope is there for you notwithstanding. “Hope is the anchor of your soul” (Hebrews 6:19)

Never let go of hope. One day you will see that it all has finally come together. What you have always wished for has finally come to be. You will look back and laugh at what has passed and you will ask yourself… ‘How did I get through all of that?” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

God really wants you to be acquainted with the Liberator Jesus – not as a religious figure – as a person. Jesus not only knew the only way to the one true God – He IS the way. He alone can show you the truth and give you an amazing hope filled life! When you die, he is the road that will lead you home!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NLT)

What do you really need right now? Whatever it is, talk to God about it. Close your eyes and pour your heart out to the Divine Spirit – the creator of all things. No matter how fanciful, foolish or bizarre this may seem to you, just do it! The Liberator Jesus said,

22-23“If you only have faith in God—this is the absolute truth—you can say to this Mount of Olives, ‘Rise up and fall into the Mediterranean,’ and your command will be obeyed. All that’s required is that you really believe and have no doubt! 24 Listen to me! You can pray for anything, and if you believe, you have it; it’s yours!” (Mark 11:22-24 – Living Bible)

Are you a Christian? If so, this promise fell from the lips of your Liberator. Do you doubt his word? Is he a liar? A fraud? A lunatic? Maybe it’s time you stopped second guessing the God who made you and simply do what he asks – look to him with expectant trust. Or else, just walk away.

Here is my prayer for you,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) And with a heart full of hope, may you put your absolute faith (trust) in the God who is able to do whatever he wills whenever he wills it! AMEN!

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ.” – C. S. Lewis –

As a Christian, I have always struggled with the necessity of dying to myself. Like most people, I want what I want when I want it. We seldom admit to this intrinsic self-absorption woven intricately within the fabric of our human DNA. To die to self requires setting aside our individual unholy trinity (I, Me and Mine) in order to refocus our love on the God who made us and to learn how to value others as highly as we value ourselves. The Liberator Jesus was once asked by a religious expert of his day,

36 “Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?” (Mathew 25:36b)

Here is how he responded,

37-39 “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ 38-39This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Christian theology teaches that Jesus has freed us from the bondage of sin by fulfilling all of the “legal” requirements of “religious law” for us.  We are now free to flourish within the undeserved favor (GRACE) of our Creator (Romans 6:14). But living in the age of God’s grace does not exempt us from submission to the commandments as taught in the scriptures. We are still to love God above everything else in life and we must learn to recognize the value in every fellow traveler on spaceship earth!

Death to self (exact biblical term: deny self) results in a liberation from our own self-absorption. Consequently, we are empowered to care more genuinely for others. It’s much easier to pay attention to the well-being of someone else when our own egocentricities no longer devour us. The Newer Testament writer Paul put it this way,

“Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.” (Philippians 2:3-4 TLB)

Just how important is self-denial (death to self)? According to Jesus, the process is an integral part of what is required to following Him:

23 23Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NLT)

Admittedly, my human nature really does not like this at all. Besides being a wee selfish on occasion, I can also be a bit of a control freak. The very thought of total surrender sends shivers up my spine. I’d never make it as the twenty-fourth oarsman in a chain gang on a Roman Galley. If I understand Jesus correctly, we must be willing to give up our personal desires and essentially yield to his control. That can make the Christian life seem uninviting and dreadful. Maybe we should finish reading what Jesus said before we jump to any conclusions:

24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 25 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:24-25 NLT).

Get it? Our loss is also our gain. Die to self and rise again to a new and better life with the Spirit of God in control.

Among the plastic saints of our times, Jesus has to do all the dying, and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying.” – A.W. Tozer

It took me years to realize that God isn’t interested in a few hours of my time, a small percentage of my money and some part-time volunteer work here and there. He wants me.  Everything – my time, money, possessions – now belongs to him. Christianity is best understood as a life surrendered to the will, plan and purpose of the Almighty. If the Divine Spirit is really in control, why would I not trust him to guide me in the use of time, money, resources, etc., etc.?

You won’t hear this message from too many contemporary Christian preachers.  It’s hard to fill up the seats on Sunday morning and build bigger buildings if you start telling people they have to surrender EVERYTHING to God. Nevertheless, this is what God wants from us. Many are called, few are chosen.

The Newer Testament writer Paul shared a few thoughts on this subject as well,

19 “Do you not know that your body is a house of God where the Holy Spirit lives? God gave you His Holy Spirit. Now you belong to God. You do not belong to yourselves. 20 God bought you at a great price. So honor God with your body. You belong to Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLV)

1 “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1 NLV)

Interesting.  To really worship God necessitates the submission of myself to him as a “living sacrifice”. Remember, Christianity teaches that God sent the Liberator Jesus to earth with a specific mission: to “seek and save” his lost creation. It’s called the plan of redemption which included the prearranged death of Jesus by crucifixion and His subsequent bodily resurrection. His death was the great price paid to get us back. Why are we to die to self and surrender to God? Simple, he purchased us and we belong to him. This is how Jesus described his mission,

45“For even I, the Messiah, am not here to be served, but to help others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”  (Mark 10:45 TLB)

The intentional death of the Redeemer was part of a great strategy. His earthly demise satisfied the claims of Divine justice. With the ransom now paid, an entry point into an eternal existence in the spiritual dimension (which the Bible refers to as Heaven) is available through the Liberator Jesus.   Sounds like a movie plot. But this is no fantasy.   Turning once again to the Scriptures, Paul wrote to the Christians living in ancient Galatia,

20”My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 – NLT)

According to Paul, when Jesus died, we all died with him. His death was substitutionary. The Liberator Jesus suffered and died for mankind. His death was for our benefit. The Righteous One died for the many unrighteous. We are dead in Jesus but he is now alive in us and our lives belong to him! That is the reason why we give-up the right to self. Death to SELF!

We have not to die; we are dead. What we have to do is to accept our death…” – T. Austin-Sparks

There is a paradox here; while my life is no longer my own, I still make choices every day that affect how I live it. This is where we all need to proceed with great caution; living daily with a sense of amazement and accountability. Think about it, God gave us a supernatural “do-over” through redemption. We now have an opportunity to respect, honor and worship Him by obedience to His will. Look at what the Newer Testament writer Paul said to the Christians living in ancient Philippi,

12 “Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12-13 – NLT)

Showing the results of your salvation, as Paul put it, can be observed in our behavior. God saved me from the damnation I deserve, set aside the penalty for all of my failures and covered me in His own blamelessness. In return, out of an attitude of gratitude, I happily surrender my own egocentric and self-serving motivations to Him. Easy right?  NOT.

Look, we will always struggle with wanting to exercise our own will. Selfishness doesn’t magically disappear. The self doesn’t like to stay dead. But God is at work within us; teaching us how to obey Him by giving us both the will and the power to do what pleases him.

Real Christianity is often filled with struggle. That is why we are encouraged to work out our own unique recovery (salvation) one day at a time. We will face many difficult choices. And yes, there will also be some losses. But God is within us. He is working out all of the details for our good! Never forget this promise that the Liberator Jesus made to all of his followers:

29-31 “I promise you, nobody leaves a home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake and the Gospel’s without getting back a hundred times over, now in this present life, homes and brothers and sisters, mothers and children and land—though not without persecution—and in the next world eternal life. But many who are first now will then be last, and the last now will then be first.” (Mark 10:29-31 – J.B. Phillips Translation)

As we die to self, we no longer try to get our own way or try to get people to look up to us (the praise of man). We stop trying to impress others. As the self passes away, we are freed from our obsession with I, ME and MINE. Over time we begin to experience true contentment.

Pop quiz: Are you secure in God’s love? Is just knowing that you have God’s approval enough for you? Can you be overlooked for recognition or promotion and still be genuinely happy? When others rain on your parade can you smile and walk away? The dead to self can answer YES to every one of those questions. How did you score?  Hey, it’s just a quiz. Let’s study to show ourselves “improved”, Okay?

Help me please my Redeemer.  I really do not want to put aside my self-centered life.  I want to be the ruler.  I want control.  But now I know that real life can only flow from within me when I let you lead.  I surrender.  I am yours.  You are my leader.  Teach me to follow you God.  In the name of the Liberator Jesus, AMEN.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.
Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires.” — Charles Caleb Colton —

My obsession with old clocks began in my late teens. Over the years, I’ve amassed a modest collection. It’s all a part of my lifelong fascination with our human perception of time.  Have you ever wondered: “What is TIME?”

For the non-scientific, an acceptable answer to that question might be, “Time measures events and their duration from the past through the present and on into the future.” Clocks, calendars, seasons, days, months and years are all “devices” for measuring the passage of time.   My inquiries on this subject have led me to one irrefutable conclusion: neither philosopher nor scientist has been able to fully answer the question, “What is time?”

Certainly we all have an inherent grasp on the abstract of time. From our mortal perspective, time measures our life experience. We are born at point A and we die at point B. The “interval” in-between A and B is our life-time.

So, it would appear that the flow of time is central to human experience. But does the flow of time truly exist, is it real or is time just an illusion; a social construct which allows us a degree of comprehension into what might otherwise be unfathomable?

And that brings me to Albert Einstein. He believed that existence is singular.  For him it was always “now” with no real separation between the past and the future. In the mind of Albert Einstein, the past, present, and future all exist in parallel and any separation between them was nothing more than a convincing illusion.

Time has no independent existence apart from the order of events by which we measure it.” — Albert Einstein

Really? Time is just an intricate illusion?  Perhaps. We’ll leave the endless debates on that subject for the philosophers, scientists and physicists. But this much I do know to be true; the creative force of the universe, the spark, the bang – Almighty God – exists without beginning or end and every moment we experience – relative or absolute – is forever.

Okay, now let’s come back to where we all live. Here in modern Sodom, NOW is all we have – illusion or not. And, if we are in fact eternal beings (timeless) confined to living in the illusionary world of time, what happens when the dream ends?

For thousands of years people have attempted to predict the end of the world (and thus time as we know it). Aside from numerous past civilizations and their copious chronicles on this subject, the bible alone contains a plethora of inspired writings and prophecies that refer to the end. Should we take them seriously?

Jesus did. When he visited the earth he too spoke of the time of the end. Here is just one example,

21-22 “There is going to be a time of trouble on a scale beyond what the world has ever seen, or will see again. If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on account of God’s chosen people, the trouble will be cut short.” – Matthew 24:21-22

This text and dozens of similar biblical declarations warn of increasingly cataclysmic global events that will occur prior to a Divine intervention into our mortal affairs. When will this happen? I don’t know. No human being does. Anyone who claims with certainty to possess the knowledge of when the world (as we know it) will come to an end is either a liar or greatly deceived. Pay them no mind. When the Liberator Jesus was here on earth, he made it crystal clear: no one would ever know the exact time of His return. Here is what he said:

34 Then at last this age will come to its close. 35 “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever. 36 But no one knows the date and hour when the end will be—not even the angels. No, nor even God’s Son. Only the Father knows. 37-38 “The world will be at ease—banquets and parties and weddings—just as it was in Noah’s time before the sudden coming of the Flood; 39 people wouldn’t believe what was going to happen until the Flood actually arrived and took them all away. So shall my coming (His return) be. Matthew 24:34-38

So, we cannot know with certainty at what moment this illusion called time will end. But we can recognize when that day is drawing near. The ancient scriptures are peppered with clues. For instance, the biblical texts predict an increase in false liberators (people claiming to be our Savior or The One), an intensification of regional conflicts and one eventual final devastating world war. Famines, pandemics, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters will steadily increase. These are all signs of the approaching end of time. Again, here is what Jesus had to say:

For many will come claiming to be the Savior and will lead many astray. When you hear of wars beginning, this does not signal my return; these must come, but the end is not yet. The nations and kingdoms of the earth will rise against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Matthew 24:5-8

It would be a mistake to interpret every earthquake, tsunami, tornado, and the numerous civil flare-ups as a sign that the end of time is here. These events merely foreshadow the final curtain. They are like the labor pains preceding a child birth.

What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” — Saint Augustine

Something else to consider. As we get closer to the end of the world there will be an unmistakable increase in spiritual, moral and social deception and degradation. The Newer Testament writer Paul warned of this nearly two millennia ago:

1-2 The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

1-5 But you must realize that in the last days the times will be full of danger. Men will become utterly self-centered, greedy for money, full of big words. They will be proud and contemptuous, without any regard for what their parents taught them. They will be utterly lacking in gratitude, purity and normal human affections. They will be men of unscrupulous speech and have no control of themselves. They will be passionate and unprincipled, treacherous, self-willed and conceited, loving all the time what gives them pleasure instead of loving God. They will maintain a facade of “religion”, but their conduct will deny its validity. You must keep clear of people like this. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

So here we are living on spaceship earth, timeless beings restrained by the illusion of time, and witnessing what might possibly be the beginning of the end. That sounds a bit alarming. No worries. I have learned a thing or two about the ways of the Divine Spirit we call God. The Creator of all things specializes in new beginnings. The end of time will bring about the destruction of all that is wrong (evil). With the return of the liberator Jesus to the earth, a new age of righteous leadership over humanity will commence, and everything will be as right as rain.

For now, I would recommend a bit of self-examination. Are you prepared for the end of time and the sudden return of the Liberator Jesus? Even if we die before that day arrives, Jesus made it abundantly clear that only those who have followed the truth which he came to reveal will find their way back home. If you know Jesus, you know the way.  Here is what the scripture has to say to all who are sitting on the fence right now,

The Holy Spirit says, “If you hear His voice today, do not let your hearts become hard as your early fathers did when they turned against me.

10 For this reason, I was angry with the people of that day. And I said to them, ‘They always think wrong thoughts. They have never understood what I have tried to do for them.’

12 Beware then of your own hearts, dear brothers, lest you find that they, too, are evil and unbelieving and are leading you away from the living God. 13 Speak to each other about these things every day while there is still time so that none of you will become hardened against God, being blinded by the glamor of sin.

15 But now is the time. Never forget the warning, “Today if you hear God’s voice speaking to you, do not harden your hearts against him…” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 10, 12-13, 15)

Now is the time. Eternity (timelessness if you still need the illusion) is the prize. Jesus is the way. These three things will never change. In the illusion of time, we’re on our way home. In the absence of time, we’re already there. Chew on that one!

God of all creation, before there was time you knew me by my name; you numbered all of my days and considered all of my ways. Before there was time you promised redemption was mine; this was always your plan for mankind and a liberator you sent to find all who were stranded in time. My hope is built on every promise made by my Liberator Jesus. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.