Why You Must Make a Decision about God
Today I want to get personal with you and yes, put you on the spot. I want to ask you a question that you MUST answer. The answer to this question is a matter of life and death. Before I ask the question, however, permit me to give you some background.
In Matthew 27 we find Jesus standing trial before Pilate. Christ has been betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Roman soldiers. He is now facing Pilate who thinks he holds Jesus’ fate in his hands. Unbeknownst to him, what Pilate really holds in his hands is his own fate. As Pilate is sitting on the judge’s seat with Jesus standing nearby, he asks a question in that should cause each of us to stop and think. It is doubtful whether Pilate truly understood the magnitude of the question, nor did he understand that he was making a decision that would affect his soul for all eternity.
Matthew 27:22 (KJ21) provides us with Pilate’s question.
“What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?”
The immediate answer that came from the people was to crucify Jesus and that is exactly what happened.
Today I want to ask you, “What are you going to do with Jesus, who is called Christ?” There are only two answers to this question. You either accept Him as Lord and Savior of your life or you reject Him as Lord and Savior. There is no ‘I’ll think about it later’ option. If you choose to ‘think about it later’, then you have rejected Christ. Do you understand the implication of choosing to reject Christ? We are never told anywhere in the Bible that Pilate became a believer in Jesus, but let me assure you, if he continued to reject Christ as Savior, a split second after he passed from this world, he became a believer in Christ. Unfortunately, at that point, it was too late. He had made his choice in this life and he discovered that in the next life the consequences of that choice were not pleasant. Eternity in hell—everlasting torment—total rejection—complete aloneness—utter abandonment.
What if you choose to accept Christ? Is that the end? Absolutely not. Once we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we must then decide how we will answer that same question on a daily basis. “What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?”
Do I put Him in a ‘Sunday’ box and pull Him out when I go to church?
Maybe I interact with Him when I am in church and also call on Him when I am in trouble?
Do I let my friends know that I am a follower of Christ? If I do, I’ll be different. I won’t be like everyone else.
What if someone makes fun of me?
What if I don’t fit in?
Every day Christians decide how they will answer the question, “What shall I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?”
Do I spend time in Bible study or do I let my Bible gather dust on the table?
Do I get alone with God in prayer and really get to know Him or do I turn on the TV or radio to fill the silence?
Do I go to church or do I go to the golf course or grocery store?
Do I make a choice to not watch television programs and movies that are inappropriate or do I watch them and think, ‘That violence, bad language, or sexual content doesn’t really affect me’?
Do I listen to uplifting, Christian music or do I listen to music that does nothing to encourage me in my Christian walk?
Do I choose to clean up my language or do I allow filth to spew from my mouth?
Do I encourage and support other Christians or do I have the attitude of ‘I don’t want to get involved’?
Hear Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:32 (NLT),
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
Again I ask you the question that you must answer. “What shall YOU do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?
Think for a moment about something that you love to smell. Is it a fresh pound cake baking in the oven or perhaps bacon frying in a pan? Maybe it is the aroma of coffee or spiced tea brewing? Perhaps it is the smell of freshly cut grass or a puppy. Each of us can identify smells that bring us pleasure.
Have you ever considered that there is an aroma that pleases God? Let us look to the Old Testament tabernacle and the furnishings within it to find the aroma that brings pleasure to our God.
In Exodus 30 we are told about the golden altar and the incense that was to be burned upon it. The altar of incense stood within the Holy Place, just outside the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. On this altar, Aaron, the priest, was to burn fragrant incense every day while he went about his duties. The last part of verse 35 says that the incense was to be “salted, pure, and sacred.” This incense was to be considered holy to the Lord and was reserved solely for this purpose. The Hebrew word used for perfume, is “qetoreth” and it means incense or perfume, but it also means “sweet smoke of sacrifice.”
The Holy of Holies was the place where God met with the high priest who represented the Israelites. So, if the Holy of Holies is where God lived among the Israelites, then the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was, in essence, God’s front door. The altar of incense, then, became God’s doorbell for Moses and Aaron. The incense that burned continually on the altar offered up a pleasing aroma to God and signified that the Israelites were obeying God’s command for the tabernacle.
What does all this mean for us today? Every part of the Old Testament tabernacle points forward to Christ and his redeeming work on the cross. When Christ died on the cross, the veil in the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies was torn in two – signifying that God’s front door was now always open to all who would accept Christ as their personal Savior.
In Revelation 5:8 (NIV) we are told the significance of the incense,
“And when he had taken it [(the scroll) emphasis mine], the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.”
There it is. The incense, burned continuously by Aaron in the Old Testament tabernacle, pointed forward to the prayers that we offer up to God. Our prayers, like the incense, should be salted, pure, and holy. They are the sweet smoke of sacrifice and are a pleasing aroma to God.
Our prayers should always be offered with a sense of reverence and awe before God. They should be pure and should come from a heart that longs to please God and follow His commands. Often our prayers will be a sacrifice, especially when they are prayed according to the will of God rather than our own will.
Oswald Chambers’ words concerning prayer are especially poignant. He said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Jesus knew this and showed us His absolute dependence upon prayer many times during His days on the earth. Luke 5:16 (NIV) tells us that “He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke’s account of Christ’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane imparts to us the importance of prayer in the life of Jesus. In this passage we find Christ not only going to His knees in prayer prior to being betrayed and crucified, but also telling Peter, James, and John to pray so that they would not fall into temptation. Jesus knew the importance of prayer in the life of a child of God.
Our prayers serve to bring our will into conformity with the will of the Father. When our prayers glorify Christ Jesus and seek the will of the Father, they are fragrant incense to the Lord.
Are You Listening?
by Ryan Duncan, author, crosswalk.com
The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice. – Proverbs 12:15
It’s common to hear Christians say, “Speak the truth with love,” but what about listening? I once read the story of a young man who was struggling with a number of problems. He was depressed, his faith was waning, and his parents eventually convinced him to sit down with their Church’s pastor. The day of the appointment, the pastor walked in and, before the young man could even open his mouth, began to speak about “How the grace of God was sufficient for all things.”
“By the end of the meeting I knew a lot about him and what he believed, but he knew absolutely nothing about me,” the young man would later recall. Sadly, one of the most overlooked commands in the Bible is that we are to listen to others. Too often, in our zeal to share the word of Christ with others, we end up trampling them in platitudes and redundant scriptures. But listening can be a powerful tool. Listening builds understanding, diminishes fear, and can be comforting in a time of sorrow.
Look at this passage from the book of James,
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:19-25
to do so much good in the world, to share the love of Christ with so many people. However, in order to do this we must first stop talking, sit quietly, and get to know them. We need to hear their stories, understand their hurts, empathize with their anger, and then, when they have nothing else to say, that is when we speak our truth. It’s time to start using our ears before we use our words.