Beloved Children

“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.’”     Matthew 25:41

In the middle of Jesus’ description of Judgment Day where He describes the separation of the ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’, He tells us clearly that hell, or the eternal fire, was created not for us but for satan and his followers.  I find that comforting and a confirmation of what Paul said to Timothy:

This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT, my emphasis)

God is a good parent.  He desires that His children come to Him out of love and the joy of being with Him but He is also willing to apply some negative discipline, teaching me that there are consequences for making poor choices.  Hell is the consequence for not choosing God as the Lord of my life.  Hell was not made for people.  For a person to go to hell that person must choose to go against God’s destiny.

God’s plan and desire has always been for me to live with Him for all eternity.  Hell would be my choice, not God’s.  To choose hell means that I love myself more than God. I love sin more than the Savior who was willing to take my sins and die for me.  And I love this world more than the eternal world that God created for me.  Judgment is that moment in time when God will look at me and say, “Your choice is now honored.”  Will heaven be my choice or will hell be my choice?

The first recorded sermon or teaching that Jesus gave was on a mountainside.  He spoke of those who are blessed (the Beatitudes) and ended with a clear warning about the judgment.  He describes it in Matthew 7 as a ‘wide and narrow gate’.  His last sermon or teaching in Matthew 25 also speaks of judgment in the description of the ‘sheep and the goats’.  Jesus did not want me to be wondering about Judgment.  Jesus wanted me to understand my two choices.  He wanted me to be informed.  He wanted me to choose wisely.  Jesus wanted me to choose…Him.

Jesus is the only one who has seen the Father. He said that He and the Father are One (John 10:30). So if I know Jesus, I know the Father. Jesus teaches me how the Father parents His children. He is extravagant with His love. So extravagant that my eternal life with Him is what He wants for me. He wants the best for me. He is showing me how a good parent keeps the child’s life in focus, not the immediate gratification.

Let us make good choices in 2011. Let us choose Jesus and His path. Let us listen to our Father with an obedient heart. We are His children.

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