Sunday, June 17, 2012

Those Who Will Not Enter the Kingdom

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

In my bible study group last week, we focused on several passages that discussed the work of the Holy Spirit. Of all the passages we read, this one gripped me the most. It begins by listing the habitual sins of those who will not inherit or, in other words, enter the Kingdom of God. If any one has ever had a question about what God considers sin and who won’t enter heaven when they die, this verse, among others, plainly provides the answers.

The passage, written by the apostle Paul to the Christians in Corinth, begins by saying the sexually immoral won’t enter heaven: That’s anyone who’s not married and is having casual sex. Idolaters are people who worship anyone or anything that takes first place in their lives other than God, such as work, family, kids, the pleasures of life, money, drugs, alcohol, themselves, false gods, etc.

Adulterers are those who have sex with someone else outside of their marriage. Then the passage mentions male prostitutes and homosexuals, those who are in sexual relationships with people of the same sex (men or women). The Lord mentions thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers (people who regularly say vicious and false statements about others), and swindlers (individuals who often obtain money or property fraudulently—hence the phrase “ill-gotten gains”).

Then, Paul writes “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This part of the verse is most comforting, because just as the Christians in Corinth received Christ when they were still practicing these sins and were then washed clean by the Holy Spirit, so was I. The Corinthian Christians were not without sin before they received Christ, and neither was I. But once they came to Christ the Holy Spirit washed them clean. They were now holy (sanctified) and forgiven (justified) of all these sins. And once they were washed clean, they stopped practicing these sins to live a life that honors the Lord. That’s what the powerful work of the Holy Spirit does in our lives the moment we place our faith in Christ for our eternal salvation. The Holy Spirit washes us clean from all our sins, makes us holy, and gives us the power and desire to turn from sin.

May we pray for our friends and family members who don’t know Christ and who are habitually practicing the sins mentioned in this passage without remorse, which will prevent them from inheriting (entering) the Kingdom of God. There was a time when I was not qualified to enter the Kingdom, but because of God’s grace and mercy, I was able to respond to His call to salvation and have now crossed over from death to life. May we bless and praise His Holy Name.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Placing Your Teenagers in God's Hands

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

About seven to eight months ago, I began praying about my 16-year-old son’s college search. I’ve been asking God to lead and guide my husband, son, and I to the best college suited for him as we compared and visited schools. We had a rocky beginning as we debated what schools we wanted our son to attend and where and what we could afford.

As we each did our research, our differences soon faded, and we began to see things eye to eye. The first school we visited, which I believe was God’s leading, was Indiana University of Pennsylvania—IUP for short. The visit entailed a 6-hour road trip and an overnight stay at a hotel, but it was well worth it. We were greeted with a wonderful presentation about the university in an auditorium, a comprehensive campus tour of the buildings and business school (my son’s future major), and a free lunch in one of the many campus cafeterias. IUP rolled out the red carpet for visiting parents and prospective students, and we enjoyed every minute of it. All of us really liked the school and its academics. We were very pleased.

Westchester University
Next, we visited Westchester University, but we weren’t too thrilled about the school. The campus wasn't as nice as IUP's; the tour was rushed; and we didn’t get to see the business school, which I later learned doesn’t have state-of-the-art facilities like IUP does. 

Today my husband, son, and I took a spontaneous, two-hour car ride to Bloomsburg University. There were no campus tours scheduled, but we wanted to see the campus anyway because we were curious about the school. The campus was really nice, and from what I’ve read they have a wonderful business school with state-of-the-art facilities.

In July, IUP has four early-decision days scheduled for prospective students. We decided to register for one of those days and revisit the school. When we arrive, we’ll drop off our son’s transcripts, SAT scores, and letters of recommendation at the admissions office, enjoy another presentation, campus tour, and free lunch, and return to the admissions office to see if our son has been accepted. That’s right, we’ll know the committee’s decision that same day. I’m looking forward to this visit. I’m praying my son will get accepted. If he does, he’ll receive a great education in a rural environment at a great school that has so much to offer.

Bloomsburg University
What I’ve learned from this experience is that God’s hand has been leading and guiding us every step of the way. And He will continue to do so until He places our son in the right college he’s supposed to be in. It’s all in His hands. All we have to do is enjoy the ride.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may you continue to direct our search for the perfect college best suited for our son. May you place him where he ought to be. And when you do, may you help him study hard, get good grades, graduate with honors, and find a job that he’ll enjoy. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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