Posted in My Journey

Our Life Renewed

God is perfect. Jesus, his son, is perfect. No human being can come close to being perfect without the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus speaks about perfection this way:

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

If we Christians cannot attain perfection without divine intervention, how is it that Jesus encourages us to be perfect? How can we become like God when our sins keep us separated from the one being who embodies love?

Of course, there is a fallacy to this argument. The mistake lies in the belief that our sins separate us from God. In reality, Jesus paid for all our sins with his shed blood, and we can now approach God’s throne clean and unblemished (2 Peter 1:9). Every time we ask God for forgiveness, we become new again. Every time God forgives us, we no longer need to harbor the guilt of our sins. We become unbroken and live again. That is God’s gift to us for believing Jesus is his son. His grace sets us free from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 5:15).

The joy of the gospel is not that we are free to do whatever we want, because that would be selfish on the part of every Christian, but that Jesus conquered death by rising from the grave to sit at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32-33). The good news is the elect have hope in Jesus with the promise of eternal life. That promise goes beyond this tiny speck of a life we are now living, and transcends into eternity (Psalms 8:3-5).

Therefore if some come to you and say, “Jesus is over here!” and then you see the object of their affection is this world and everything in it, do not believe them. Material wealth perishes, as does the recognition of others (Romans 8:6). And if some say to you, “Jesus is over there!” and you find they are looking to themselves for approval, do not believe them. None can buy their way into the kingdom, for the kingdom of heaven is God’s gift to those who believe (Romans 6:23).

Instead, pray every day for the kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done. Bless those who curse you. Give to those who beg, and strive to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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God’s Love Endures Forever

God loves us more than anything in the universe. He loves us more than the sun, more than the earth, more than anything. God’s love for us is so great such that he sacrificed his son Jesus so that he might save us from the penalty of sin. There is nothing God has withheld in order to give us life.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about God’s love this way:

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.

(Isaiah 49:13)

Later, in that same chapter Isaiah reveals one of the most significant prophecies recorded in the bible, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). What is Isaiah talking about here? The context is all about Israel’s restoration, yet this one verse points to a time when God will give of himself for the salvation of those who believe. How is that possible?

When the Romans were holding Jesus’ hands steady on the cross, the engraver positioned his nails to write all our names on Jesus’ palms. Once our savior’s blood soaked the back of that cross, God’s love for us was complete. We all had a hand in the crucifixion, but God was the one who now had our names engraved on the palms of his hands.

If in our lives we reach a time when we feel abandoned, acquainted with sorrow, or rejected, there is no one else who felt that more than God’s son Jesus did when he hung on that cross. However, God’s love never failed Jesus, for he now sits at the right hand of the Father and is waiting for the day when he will come again. In the meantime, our names are safe with God, and he will not forget us when we pass from this life to the next, for his love endures forever.

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Our Trials Have Meaning

I once attended a church whose pastor believed trials are not from God. I actually had a lively discussion with him in terms of proving God uses trials and persecutions to build a Christian’s faith and love for God. It was not until some time had passed that I realized the pastor believed in the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel convinces Christians that God wants them to be healthy, wealthy and happy in this lifetime. I will not revisit this topic, as I have already written about this before. What I would like to write about today, though, is to make the point that God loves us and that no matter what happens in this lifetime, he will never abandon us. The trials we go through as individuals, and as a church, happen for a reason. We may not know the reason for our suffering now, and we may not know it until we have lived our lives to the full, but God has it all planned one-thousand moves ahead of us. He knows where all the pieces of our suffering fit in the grand scheme of his design. What we have to do is trust him with all our hearts, with all our souls and with all our minds. Then, and only then, will our trials have meaning.

Before Moses died, he provisioned Joshua to be his successor. Part of that provisioning included encouraging words that would carry Joshua and the next generation of Israelites to the Promised Land:

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

In the same way, God will not leave us or forsake us. We may have days when we feel we should have stayed in bed and not faced the world, but God will not give us a trial we cannot handle. He has already counted the cost, and he knows we can overcome. We just need to look to him for the courage and strength. Through his son Jesus, we can do all things, as the Apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). And by the power of the Holy Spirit, God brings into remembrance the words we need to move forward, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Whatever you may be going through, whatever trial you may be facing, remember: God is always there listening, whispering; he will never abandon you (Psalms 16:1). You are very important to him, and no one can prevent you from drawing closer to him. His purpose for all of us is for us to rely on him fully, perfectly and without hesitation. He is our God, our creator and king.

No one can take that away from us.

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God’s Perfect Purpose

Jesus saves. God’s glorious work lives in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for others, saving them from the penalty of their sins. Oh, what a wonderful, delightful and pleasing sacrifice that was to God the Father, creator of all things. He purposed his son’s destiny from the very beginning and gave to humanity the very desire to seek eternal life through him. Jesus is the only satisfying need we have that will render us complete.

The apostle Paul wrote about this to new believers who sought encouragement regarding their salvation:

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9)

Our faith as Christians in the one who is our savior, Jesus, is a testament to those who are seeking him but have not yet found him. For when we demonstrate our love for him, by keeping God’s word and testifying in his name, then truly we are preaching the gospel not only by works but also by faith. By believing that Jesus is the son of God will we rise to eternal life. The Book of Hebrews speaks about this faith this way, “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39).

Therefore, whatever may be holding us back, whatever we may fear, let God’s purposed reason for our existence (Romans 8:28), proclaiming Jesus as his son, fill our hearts with joy and give us hope for the kingdom to come.

May God bless you all, and may peace dwell in your hearts and in your minds.

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Looking to God

Praise God in the mountains. Praise him in the hills. Give glory to him everywhere, for he is merciful, good and just.

I would not be saying these things today had God not impressed upon me the desire to preach his word to all nations, as it says in (Mark 16:15-16):

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’”

And I am going to be candid for what I am about to say, because I am sure you are wondering why you are reading this article on LookingtoGod.org instead of JackFlacco.com.

When I started my blog in December 2012, I was writing about zombies and I was looking to find an audience who would enjoy reading posts about the undead and the science behind it. One such post had to do with the various phases of rigor the body goes through during its decomposition. Never did I think how influential my posts would be until one night I had over 1,200 hits in an hour from people who were searching for the answer to the question, “Why do zombies eat brains?” And never did I think my first zombie book would end up as a bestseller when it came out in October 2013.

As the years went on, my measure of success was by how many followers I had on Twitter, how many likes I had on Facebook, and how many readers I had on JackFlacco.com. Everything became a numbers game. If I could grab the audience’s attention, I will have earned their loyalty. Or so I thought. That is, until February 2016. For it was then that I realized God was working with me, shaping my heart, and moving me to forgive all those who I believed had done me wrong.

I read a lot about repentance. I read a lot about forgiveness. I was going through a transformation, leaving behind old grudges to live a new life filled with Jesus. I emerged two months later as the proverbial new man. No longer was the weight of hatred holding me down, but I had the Holy Spirit guiding my decisions, showing me things in the bible I had never seen before.

Two-and-a-half years later, after having written countless articles about salvation, and having published my first Christian book, I am announcing the birth of Looking to God Ministries, an organization dedicated to drawing people closer to God by encouraging them to love others as themselves and to love Jesus. We have yet to write a mission statement, or come up with branding; but those things are on our list of things to do. The exciting news is we have a homeless outreach program already up and running; and starting with When Forgiveness Is Enough, I will be signing over the rights, royalties and proceeds to all my books to the ministry as a means to support its programs.

So I am thrilled to begin on this new journey, sharing this experience with you all, and wondering what God has waiting for Looking to God Ministries in the next little while. I am sure that whatever he has planned, it will be a time of challenges, moments of excitement, and opportunities to draw closer to him.

Please join me in prayer that I may know what his will is.

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Posted in My Journey

Salvation Is Ours Now

Jesus is the only answer to eternal life. For those wishing to live forever, he is the way, the truth and the light. God purposed Jesus to come to earth when he did to take away the sin of the world. What many do not realize, though, is that God had foretold Jesus’ coming way back in the Garden of Eden:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God spoke these words to the serpent as a curse for the deception under which he had caused humanity to fall (Genesis 3:4); that by taking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God had forbidden (Genesis 2:17), Adam and Eve would not surely die. The serpent implied they already had eternal life within them and did not need God to live forever.

The last part of that curse, however, is the true hope for humanity. It bears repeating, “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In other words, Jesus will ultimately overcome Satan (Romans 16:20) by becoming the perfect sacrifice by which God will redeem us; a promise he fulfilled when he died on the cross for us (Ephesians 2:13).

Satan can bring charges against us to the high courts in heaven (Job 1:9-11). He can tempt us to commit sin (Matthew 4:5-6). He can attempt to corrupt us (Galatians 6:7-8). But what he cannot do is make us do anything against our will (James 1:14-15). And when our will aligns to God’s will, there is nothing he can do to render us useless (Luke 22:42).

God will provide the help we need to overcome Satan. As it says in the Gospel of John, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26). Once we accept Jesus as our savior, through grace, God saves us.

What a wonderful and powerful message that Jesus brought to his very elect. No circumstance is too great, no power is too strong, and no force is too overwhelming that God could not overcome. His glorious message of salvation guarantees us eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. And if we do struggle with our days, let us take heart, for God is our strength, as it says in Psalms, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).

Therefore, let us encourage one another, help one another and grow in the knowledge of Christ our Lord, for eternal life is ours now, and the days are short until his return.

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Everlasting Life Through Christ

Eternal life is God’s gift to those who believe Jesus is his son. Not many promises to God’s elect are as direct, as resilient, and as foremost, as that written by the apostle Paul in the letter to the saints in Rome. And few promises stand out as being the one promise for which every Christian ought to aim:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus said about the resurrection to everlasting life, “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Mark 12:25).

Jesus is talking about us and about our destiny. We may think we know where we are going, perhaps assumed true, or even accepted what others have told us, but our Savior and King says it plainly that we will neither marry nor be married when resurrected. We will be as angels but not angels; for Paul says we will ultimately judge the angels, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life” (1 Corinthians 6:3).

Our lives are in preparation for a time far greater than the mortal life we are living today. Eternal life promises a life with God the Father and Jesus sitting at his right hand, glorified with them and judging the world, as Paul says in verse 2, “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?”

The destiny we look to is beyond anything we can imagine this life can provide. The ultimate joy we will experience once we die will not compare with the lifetime of pain we may have had to endure by claiming Christ as our savior.

Yet God’s rich favor over our lives is worth more than mountains filled with gold and chests brimful and running over with jewels. Nothing comes close to what we will have after this life.

Let us count it all joy to know God loves us that much to have us live forever.