"Ultimately our lives are not valuable because we are happy but because they are connected with a purpose greater than ourselves." Grenz and Olson in Who Needs Theology
Life is a struggle, but God calls us to struggle well. Madame Guyon once said, "It is the fire of suffering that brings forth the gold of godliness." As we struggle to accomplish our life’s goals and dreams, 1 Corinthians 9:24 says to, “run in such a way as to get the prize”, but it’s important to know the gold medals and treasures of this world will pass away. But, there is a gold and treasure that lasts forever. Job 22:25 says, “Then, the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.”
It’s an honor to have earned a gold medal at the Olympics. But as much as the gold medal means to my family, friends, community and to me, I believe there is a greater joy, a greater peace, a greater gift, a greater power, and a Greater Gold, which comes from having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Matthew 6:19 says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
We were created to glorify our Creator. We were created to worship Him. So many people never take the time to stop, be still, and know God is God and we are man. Yes, we are humans and not God. We didn't create the universe. We aren't in control of this earth that is spinning around the sun at almost 1,100 miles per hour. We didn't create the seasons, which perfectly keep our human race alive through heat and precipitation. We didn't create the human body that just happens to produce a priceless child through love and intimacy. Have you ever just stopped to think about wonders like that? Have you ever allowed the power of God to really sink in? Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still, and know that I am God."
Even if you have caught a glimpse of God's splendor, this world can cause you to forget about your Creator very quickly. I think that is one of satans most powerful tools. Satan causes us to forget all the amazing things that have happened in our lives and the lives of those around us. Satan keeps showing us how broken we are, keeps filling us with guilt, and causes us to think we are in control. Well, we are not in control. Regardless of all of the devil's schemes, God is in complete control of everything, including the devil. God doesn't allow anything to happen that is not according to His Will.
We are all sinners. The Bible, which is God's breathed word says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Notice. It doesn't say some of have sinned. We ALL have sinned. To sin means to miss the mark. We have all missed the mark and made mistakes throughout our lives. We are all ragamuffins as Brennan Manning states in the Ragamuffin Gospel. None of us deserve to live eternally with our Heavenly Father. Actually, because of our sin, we have earned judgment. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."
This may shock you, but salvation can never be earned. Salvation is a free gift, which is so awesome! None of us can earn eternal life through the good deeds we do on earth. How could doing 58,246 acts of kindness ever earn eternal paradise? It can't. We can't earn heaven. If we could earn it, we competitive humans would be keeping track of all our good deeds. We would brag about how much closer we are getting to heaven. Truth be known, there would be some people who would build there own good deeds web site so everyone could see how supposedly wonderful they are. Salvation is not about works. Ephesians 2:8 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast." Salvation is a freely given through heartfelt Faith, and "Faith," wrote J. Gresham Machen, "consists not in doing something, but in receiving something." You receive a new heart, and the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
As the good thief hung on the cross beside Jesus, the ultimate confession of faith took place. The Gospel of Luke tells the account (23:39-43).
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him (Jesus): Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us! But the other criminal rebuked him. Don't you fear God, he said, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what we deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong. Then he said, Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.
The good thief’s request, in all its simplicity, is the glorious absolute truth of Jesus Christ. Salvation is about realizing we are all like the sinning thief hanging on the cross of life. Isaiah 53:6 says, "We all,like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Once we realize this fact, we must cry out in repentance and call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Messiah slain to atone for the past, present, and future sins of the world. Salvation is about believing Christ rose from the grave and now sits at the right hand of God in His Kingdom.
We don't know if the good thief believed in abortion, homosexuality, or water baptism. We don't know if the good thief ever read the Holy Scriptures or ever attended Temple. But, we do know he had authentic faith in Jesus, which opens the door to paradise.
I encourage you to stop right now and ask yourself if you have the faith of the good thief. If you do, keep leaning into Jesus everyday in everyway through Prayer, Bible Study, Worship, and Fellowship. James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you."
If you yearn for eternal peace and paradise, I encourage you to take a good look at the God-man named Jesus. I encourage you to take a good look at Christianity. Christianity is the only relationship that guarantees Heaven upfront. As you read this, I want you to realize I am not a preacher. I respect preachers to the utmost for committing their lives to Jesus Christ, but some people see preachers as "professional salesmen." I'm not a salesman. I'm an extremely "satisfied customer" of the love, mercy, grace, and hope of Christ.
If you feel a tugging on your heart to choose Christ as your Savior, I encourage you to say inside or out loud, "Jesus, I believe in you. I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose from the grave to prove I can live with you in Heaven with all my other brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember me in your Kingdom."
If you sincerely meant this statement to Jesus, I welcome you to the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit now lives inside of you. The Spirit is a revolution within who provides all the power you will ever need to accomplish God's Will for your life. Dwight Edwards wrote, "Because of our revolution within, obeying Him has not only become our mortal duty, but also our new heart's truest and deepest delight. The indwelling Spirit of God produces the outflowing life that God requires of us."
Does being a Christian protect you from pain and brokenness? No way! It doesn't take much to be a Christian. It takes everything! The world is a struggle filled with trials and suffering, but don't fear because God has overcome death and the world. Romans 8:31 says, "If God is for us, who can be against us?
As a Christian, we should no longer live for the short time we have on this earth. Regardless of what happens during the previews of earth, Christ paid our ticket in full so we could watch the feature presentation forever.
Now that is GREAT NEWS!
At Greater Gold, we believe if you love God with all your heart and treat your neighbor as yourself, God will bless you with the desires of your heart according to His Will.
We encourage you to delight yourself in your Savior daily. It works!