Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Are you convinced they know Christ as Savior?

Recently a professor commented that there is no way we can know whether anyone knows God in their heart unto salvation. "Only the Father knows those who belong to Him," he said. I thought, "Really?" Questions popped up immediately. At that comment I interrupted and asked him, "Are you telling me there is no way I can know that my wife knows the Lord?" Does not Scripture tells us to not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. As much as I love my professor, his comments, I am convinced, are wrong. Has not God given us the Holy Spirit and common sense to perceive those who belong to Him? Does not are spirit bear witness with those who belong to the family of God? Wow! Can we not see the love for God, the humility, the passion for God's glory in an individual and say to ourselves, "That is a person of God." Sure "Christians" everywhere are working out their own salvation, and many claim to do things in Christ's name that are phonies, but is not there a place where you and I find comfort in knowing that there are those we know who love the Lord when we fellowship with them?
I know that I know that I know that my lovely wife, Kathy, knows the Lord. Her character displays the things in Scripture that tell me she is a follower of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind or my heart.
We can especially tell those who belong to the family of God when trails come. Look...all I am saying is that there are indicators along the way. There is much more I would have to say on this comment but I am restraining myself for the sake of my readers. There is tremendous comfort when I dwell in fellowship with other believers of Christ whether I know them or not. It is the coming together of those who love the Lord where the Holy Spirit dwells; Scripture tells us that. Also in 2 Timothy 2:5 Paul writes to Timothy and says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. How could Paul say, "I am sure..."? Well, I know how he could say it. It's called overwhelming evidence that their character lines up with God's Word of holy living.
It breaks my heart for anyone to think there is no one we can trust in fellowship. I consider it lonely and tragic. Peace out ~

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hang on ~ This is kind of heavy ~~

Faith and Repentance or Repentance and Faith or Faith or Repentance or…you get my point. Recently my readings have taken me to an old debate since the 2nd Century. “What are you writing about?” Well, since you asked I’ll tell you.
Christ said by faith alone are we saved; no one wants to dispute that. But does repentance come first or faith? Did not John the Baptist say, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 and 4:7) Sure he did. There no one more known for saying, “Repent!” than John the Baptist. Are there others that said repent? Yes! Even Jesus said this. Compare the two passages between chapter three and four. Jonah also told the people of Nineveh to repent because of imminent doom upon them by God. But hey, did they get saved? Only from God’s destruction did they escape (Jonah 3:5-10). They did not repent unto salvation. God has mercy on all who repent. This is general love for all mankind, but it does not secure salvation. You can ask, “What’s the point in repenting?” If I told anyone to repent, what would they think of immediately? They would think, ‘Oh, this guy is talking about…God; oh brother.” But 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” Let’s observe that Paul says, “…leading…” He did not say repentance saves you but that it leads you toward.
To repent is to change one’s mind; to change a behavior is to be more exact. The good news is repenting does lead toward thoughts of God. Most people understand that in Exodus God gave us the Ten Commandment; but did that save them? Absolutely not! It only curbed their propensity to not sin. It pointed out what their sin was. God was saying don’t do that, do this instead. It was never about works even then; it was always about faith in Him. While repentance is not a condition of eternal salvation, God does reward those who seek after them. Look at Hebrew 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” That is good news for everyone who sincerely desires to know God. The rabbis had taught people that a condition to enter God kingdom was that they had to repent. Look at Luke 18:9-14. Come on! Get your dusty bible off the shelf and look at this passage.
Now we know why we are called to repent. What about Faith. Jesus said that belief was the only criteria. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (John 3:18).” How comforting. If there were any works involved at all many would be dead meat. God made it simple for anyone to enter the kingdom. Faith is what we hope for but we cannot see. Faith is a conviction that what He says will be. Jesus also said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” But isn’t that great news to anyone who is disabled. Many cannot grasp deep understanding, but even a child can believe. Anyone can believe; that is the point.
Wow! I hope that wasn’t too much. Take it easy ~

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is Anyone Trying to Destroy You? ~

Father above...guide me in this post. As I read the Proverbs 26 this morning I was struck in my heart. Let me ask a question. Has anyone tried to damage your life? Recently, a year or so ago, God put someone in my life who sought their own personal gain. In the process of knowing this person I understood ulterior motives that those in authority did not see. "Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are fervent lips with an evil heart." (vs.23 ESV) I will continue, "Whoever hates disguises himself with his lips and harbors deceit in his heart; when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with deception, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly. Whoever digs a pit will fall into it, and a stone will come back on him who starts it rolling. A lying tongure hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin." Do you understand the impact of this passage? If someone has a goal, and you just a happen to be in the way, what do you do? Don't take it personal; you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Really? Is not our Father God sovereign in our lives? God may be wanting to bring to the surface your lack of fellowship with Him. You may say, "I do what I can but I am so busy." Really? Has God abandoned you? Never! You do have time but keep making excuses of how tired or busy you are. Legitimately you probably are tired of something. God's yoke is supposed to be easy. Remember, it is moment to moment fellowship with Him...always. God loves you very much; you must believe that! No matter where you go Satan will seek to destroy through someone, maybe even another believer. Scripture says that are "battle is not with flesh and blood." You must forgive and move on. It hurts deeply when someone injures us, especially someone you might care for though they don't believe it. When those old feelings come back remember that your ability to tap into God's strength is directly connected to your forgiveness. ~

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Word became flesh ~

I am certain of this...that every day God reveals to us so many things we could never have time to write about it all. It is just too much. Each year I try to set a goal of reading through the Scripture of God; it usually takes me three years.

In the first chapter of John the author, inspired by God, tells us that:
Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Joh 1:4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Joh 1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Each of theses verses has been disected and studies many times. Chapters in commentaries have been dedicated to just these five verses. My professor, Dr. Neil Nelson is a greek teacher. This passage is the first he has his students read in the Greek language. The "Word" is pertaining to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word. You say, "So what? What's the big deal?" Here is my point. To think the our Creator became flesh, later on in the chapter (v.14), to save us from eternal separation from Him...is very hard to understand and accept. I cannot fathom that kind of love. Can you? When I spend time meditating on this I am in tears. God's grace and mercy is born from his holiness. God is, "Holy, holy, holy!" In the book of Revelation is says:
Rev 4:8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come."
There are angels in heaven that are created just to respond on His holiness. Why would God give us His only Son to save us? He loves us. He loves you. Meditate on these five verses and you cannot help but respond in thankfulness. Remember that the "light of men"(v.4) is Christ. The only light in you is Christ. Continue to walk in His good fellowship and feel His good pleasure flow through you today. God bless you ~

Monday, September 22, 2008

War in heaven ~

A thought occurred to me that two-third of heaven went to war for God, our heavenly Father. What I find interesting is that the battle continues to this day. What!? According to the Scriptures the battle will not stop until Satan is contained for a thousand years during the millenial reign on earth (if your theology believes that). Then he (Satan) will be released again for a short time. After that he will be judged and cast into the Great Abyss (lake of fire) for all of eternity at the final judgement. There he will not able to do battle against the God we know and love. The angles went to war for God! I will say it again, "The angels went to war for God." This disturbs me alittle I'll have to admit. With a single thought God could have taken Satan with the third of angels, he had convinced to side with him, and banished them for ever; but God didn't do that. He had a plan that involved you and me. I will ask you this question. Do you battle for the Lord? Man! Bro! Dude! This is no joke. Do you battle for the Lord? When I thought of the angels in heaven siding with God to do battle, which they had never had to do before, I thought, "Do I battle for the Lord...at all?" My heart is heavy with this thought. God battles for us all the time. Do I battle for Him, my Creator?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A New Chapter ~

Thank you ~ There is always a time when a new chapter in life is recognized. Such is our circumstance today. The neighborhood we live in is full of young couples with children. Shasta, our white lab, has been our good will ambassador. The days are thoughtful with plenty to do. At times our Father in heaven knows when it is time to rest. Kathy is very busy with her new occupation as a business analyst. It is a supervisory role and part of team of people she enjoys working with. I am finishing up my graduate classes at the seminary and hope to be finished in six months. But, believe it or not, this is our time of rest. Kathy is very busy at work and I am always studying. But the "rest" is there as we live moment to moment in fellowship with our Father in heaven. The job is not important. The studying is not important either. It is always about our communion with God. Hearing from Him is premier in all that we do. If anxiety or fretting seeps in it is because we have lost focus. This is not rocket science. God has made it easy; we just refuse to believe it at times. I had talked to an old friend recently. He has been to so many colleges trying to find the right fit for him and wondering what to do with his life. When one is greiving it is extremely difficult to hear God. There is a grieving process. But after that there must be praise to Him. As we praise God, and join in the work He has going, we find direction. I know it sounds simple but let me ask you a question. Are you risking anything in faith trusting God? If not, you must try it. "Without faith it is impossible to please God," the Bible. Kathy and I love you all ~

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whose in charge?

"I'm in charge." "No, I'm in charge!" I love this picture. It was taken less than a month ago at the Womacks. The person next to me is Linda Womack. She is the brilliant wife of Everett Womack. They are both close friends. Linda and I were talking about our missed opportunity of discussing escatology (i.e. - future events yet to happen). We both just happen to have our hands on our hips at the time which I though was funny. When I first looked at this picure I thought of my relationship with my Lord. I get to this place where I am convinced that I am living moment to moment with the Lord only to be interuped with something that draws me away from fellowship with Him. I am a fellow who likes to get things accomplished well. As a result I am constantly having to watch my behavior towards others. It is not about how I can accomplish this or that; it is about my moment to moment fellowship with God. I can choose anything to get for self satisfaction or I can listen to what my creator is guiding me to do. If I brush off a thought to accomplish what I want to do am I sinning against my Lord? God's word tells me that I will give an account for every thought to my Lord. A dear friend, who has passed on five years ago, paid me a compliment, "Mike, you are a capable guy you know." I thought, "Wow! She is so cool." Then she said, "Mike, I am a capable person to too. And well, can I say something?" I said, "Sure." She then said, "Mike, I know because I am capable I don't pray very often; how about you? Do you struggle with prayer?" Man, I did not know what to say. I was struck through. My heart sank because I only knew this to be true. I told her that I did struggle with prayer and thank her for the exhortation. I knew God was trying to get my attention...my fellowship. God wants our fellowship from moment to moment. He wants to commune with us. As I seek to live more humbly with my Lord I hope to leave Him IN CHARGE so that I remain living in fellowship moment to moment with Him.