I've been thinking a lot on the attitude some have about God and living a holy lifestyle. It really concerns me, but I guess if they choose not to love him, they have that right. God gives us all a free will.
Loving him is what it all comes down to. Not how good we have to be to get to Heaven, and not how bad we can be to miss Hell.
Jesus said if we love him, we will keep his commandments. Somewhere along the line, many have lost their love for him. I look at some and wonder if they ever really had it, because as I've come to really love him, I want nothing more than to please him, not for what I can get from it, but just because I want to. I want to make God smile. I want him to rejoice over me with joy.
I know what it's like to serve sin and I know what it's like to serve God. There's no comparison. To be a servant of sin is to live in torment, because just a "little sin" is never enough. There always has to be something a little more daring, a little more dangerous, a little more exciting, a little more perverted. I don't know where I would be today if I had not surrendered my life to Jesus when I did. I was a "good" servant to sin. I pretty much did whatever it led me to do with very little restriction. I denied Jesus by living for Satan.
I can't make anyone love Jesus. I can't make anyone want the safety of the Father's loving arms. I can't shake people until their teeth rattle and force them to realize the trap the enemy has laid for them isn't the life of joy and freedom God has for them if only they will accept it.
Many will be left behind when the trumpet sounds, and we who are looking for the Lord's return are caught up in the air to be ever with him. They will go through the worst years of terror this world has ever known, a period we believers call the Great Tribulation. Some will see that what the Bible said was true after all, and will finally believe what the departed saints told them. Many will accept Jesus and choose death at the guillotine rather than denying him, thus gaining eternal life with him. Many more will willingly take the mark of the Beast and doom themselves to everlasting darkness and eternal torment. Heaven or Hell. They're both real and they're both forever.
If you have never given your life to Jesus, and you feel the Holy Spirit tugging at your heart right now, then today is your day. You've never committed a sin that God won't forgive. Just believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, that you believe he truly is the son of God. Ask him to come into your heart and forgive your sins. Make him your Lord. You'll still have hard times. That goes with life. But I promise you, you will never again go through them alone. God loves you. He has a good plan for your life, but you must accept his plan and give up your own. It's called surrender. Your will for his.
If you're a believer, don't give up on your loved ones. Keep praying for them and keep loving them. God didn't give up on us.
Shirley Hoffman is pastor of New Beginnings Worship Center at Wingett Run.