Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

A solid and sure foundation (Hebrews 6; 10:26-29)

February 16, 2018

 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,  Hebrews 6:19

Have you asked, “Is so and so really a Christ-follower?”  Have you ever wondered if you are a genuine Christ follower?

To be boldly transparent, there are days when most believers will question their genuine salvation.  When do those days come?  Usually when you are extremely weary in life or you have extremely blew it in your faith.

The writer of Hebrews writes to encourage believers who from time to time find themselves in this place.  Maybe you are in this place today.  If so, find encouragement from this fact:  “Salvation is a gift from God that is guaranteed by the God who guards our faith with the assurance that it will be given to you at the end.”  This is the solid and sure foundation of Hebrews 6:19.

However, there is a warning here.  There are some believers who are not really believers, 6:4-9.  Such people are actually false believers.  Yes these people are enlightened, they have tasted, they have shared and they have participated in faith.  But only as observers not as people who have obeyed the gospel.

They know about Jesus (enlightened) but do not know Jesus.  They have sampled (tasted) the faith but never have they surrendered to the faith.  They have shared in our faith (in the crowds) but never sold-out to faith.  They have felt the power of the Word but never have they fell in love with the person of the Word.

Hebrews 10:26-29 teaches that they will experience the fires of hell.  However, this will never be with us. We have a sure and steadfast hope in Jesus Christ.

Today, I do not wonder if I am saved, even if I blow life terribly.  I know my life is secure in Him.  But I still each day strive to mature and I strive to renounce sin and rejoice in His righteousness.  May these words bring assurance to your life.

Ms. Crosby said it better than I:

  1. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
    Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
    His child and forever I am.

    • Refrain:
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
      Redeemed, redeemed,
      His child and forever I am.
  2. Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
    No language my rapture can tell;
    I know that the light of His presence
    With me doth continually dwell.
  3. I think of my blessed Redeemer,
    I think of Him all the day long:
    I sing, for I cannot be silent;
    His love is the theme of my song.
  4. I know I shall see in His beauty
    The King in whose law I delight;
    Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
    And giveth me songs in the night.
  5. I know there’s a crown that is waiting
    In yonder bright mansion for me,
    And soon, with the spirits made perfect,
    At home with the Lord I shall be.
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Getting your share (Revelation 20, Isaiah 50)

June 18, 2014

“Blessed and holy are the one who shares in the first resurrection!  Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a 1000 years.”  Rev. 20:6

Question; “When will you and I get what we deserve?”  This is an amazing question in light to what is ahead for our world.

Revelation 20 gives us three events that are still to come in our society:

1.  1000 year reign of Christ, Vs: 1-6

Satan will be seized and sealed (Will deceive the nations no longer).  The Saints will rule and reign with Christ for a 1000 years.  All those who have died in Christ will be raised to rule.

2. One last moment of rebellion against Christ, Vs: 7-10

Satan will be released to deceive the nations.  Satan will be released to be destroyed by fire from heaven.

3.  The Great White Throne Judgment of Christ, Vs: 11-15

All those who have walked on the earth, in every generation, will appear before the Great and Awesome God who is on the throne.  All will get their share of the fruit of their labor, “And anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Think it through:

Satan finally gets what is his share for what he has done since the beginning of time.

Sinners finally get what is their share for what they have done in living a life in rebellion against God.

These two thoughts alone cause me to ponder the why of my personal acquittal from getting what I deserve.  The fact is the one on the throne in Rev. 20 was the one who took my punishment on the cross! Here is how Isaiah described that moment in time, “He gave His back to those who strike, and His cheeks to those who pull out the beard,” Isaiah 50:6.

Brothers and sisters, we will never get what we deserve (our share) because we have been delivered from the wrath to come by the precious sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

Our response:

We must live as both a forgiven and focused people.  We should be joyous and holy in our character because we have been forgiven.  We should be intentional in our witness because all around us are people who are about to get their share of what they deserve.

“Maybe you are reading this blog for the first time and you are for the first time hearing about what you are going to receive in the future.  I want to challenge you to consider the cross and what it represents about your life.  I want to challenge you to consider Jesus who went to the cross.  I want to plead with you to surrender your life to Jesus.”  

When God no longer pardons (II Kings 24; Hebrews 6)

November 11, 2013

“And also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord would not pardon.”  II Kings 24:4

“I will not forgive you.”  These were the strong words of a young man who would not forgive his father for a wrong against him that had been committed years ago.  When one investigated this young man’s life it was clear that his heart was now hardened by bitterness and his life was not characterized by mercy.

When one investigates the character of God, he or she finds just the opposite.  God has been long-suffering and merciful (II Peter 3:9; I Timothy 2: 3-5).  As we see God in the Old Testament, we find him constantly working with a rebellious people.  Year after year the Father offered forgiveness to His chosen people if they would repent and follow Him (II Chronicles 7:14).  But now as we come to II Kings 24 God will no longer pardon.

In this chapter we are clearly made aware that Judah is at the end of her life as a free people.  Each king was now clearly following in the evil footsteps of the sins of Manasseh.

Think it through:

1. Their last days were characterized by both sin and judgment, Vs: 1-7.

2.  Their last days were characterized by rebellion and arrogance, Vs: 8-9.

3.  Their last days were characterized by captivity and poverty, Vs: 10-20.

Dig a little deeper:

In the last days (Revelation 15-16) we see these same character traits in the life of all of humanity.  In these days God will no longer pardon.  Men will receive the due reward for their rebellion.

But until then God is still extending grace to the masses.  This is why we are in Africa this morning.  This is why we can with conviction share with the people of Malawi their need of repentance, for Jesus is coming again.

Join with us in praying for God’s harvest here and for God’s harvest where you live.

Who Is This For?

June 7, 2012

“Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for all of us?'” Luke 12:41

At our house there are always wonderful smells of food around dinner time.  Sherry is a wonderful wife and mother.  Her cooking skills are amazing.  But there are times when her children get upset with her.  These moments often occur when they discover the wonderful smells of food are from the food that she is preparing for some family in our church or in our community.  In these moments their taste-buds are devastated because this was not for them.

As we pick up our More For Christ readings, Luke 12:41-59, Jesus has just completed the telling of a parable, a story with a spiritual meaning. The parable was about the readiness of servants.  The spiritual meaning is simply, “The Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect so always be ready.”

Peter’s question is legitimate. Who is this truth intended for?  The answer comes in the verses that follow:

This was intended for those who would be obedient:

Such people would hear and obey the commands of God.  Such people will be blessed when their master comes and they will be rewarded.  This is joyous news and it is accountable news.  Each of us who have heard and understand have been given very much and God says, “Everyone to whom much has been given, of him much will be required.”  

This was intended for those who would not be obedient:

These are the people who would fall into one of the following categories:  1) They heard and would not obey 2) They had not heard  3) They heard and decided to divide from those in their family who heard.

For those in these groups the coming of the Son of Man will be a dreadful day.  On this day they will be sentenced to eternity apart from God.  Because of their rebellion they will be punished for all of eternity.  I believe the passage is clear, their degrees of punishment will be different, but hell in its easiest place is still hell.

Question:  “I wonder, how many people will end up in hell thinking they were headed to heaven?”  The fact is there are many who have heard and they think because they are around the church that they are headed for heaven.  When in fact they are not in the church.

Still there are many others who find themselves in the place where they have never heard. Still yet they are without excuse, Romans 1:18-25.  It is to these people who you and I need to focus our energies.  We need to make them aware of what the Gospel teaches.  We need to become the aroma of life.

I challenge you this day to be about our masters business.  This could be the very day he comes for us and for all those who do not know him.

 

Of Goats and Sheep

February 6, 2012

“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46.

This morning I came to a passage that gets down to the bottom line of life, “Matthew 25:31-26:13.  Here Jesus makes a clear distinction between those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous.  Now, let’s be clear from the beginning, “Everyone begins life as unrighteous and only Christ can made us righteous.” With this said we discover that the difference in the righteous and unrighteous is clearly seen, thus the illustration of the goats and the sheep.

This is clearly illustrated in chapter 26 in the life of two followers of Christ.  Their identities are simply, “Mary and Judas.”  Their names are synonymous with the ministry of Christ.  Both were early followers of Christ. But now it becomes clear that they were on different paths.

Mary was on the path of a sheep.  She embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Here in chapter 26 Mary offers to Christ the best she had.  Be assured this was not a payment for salvation.  This was her praise offering to the one who saved her.  The aroma of her offering filled that room.

Judas was on the path of a goat.  He seemingly embraced Jesus as Lord and Savior.  However in chapter 26 we discover he really had not.  Judas was a follower for what he could get from Jesus.  Here at the twilight of the cross, Judas sees one last opportunity for gain from Jesus.  So Judas betrays Jesus.  I wonder, what was the aroma he was giving off?

Now here is where it can become difficult, “The disciples sided with Judas when Mary gave an offering to Jesus.”  For me, this was a sobering reminder that we sometimes do not understand the difference in the smell of goats and sheep.  We must seek daily to focus more on our love for Christ than we do in our labor for Christ.

I truly know that I would be a Judas this very day if not for the redemptive work of Christ. Mary gave the best she had to Jesus because she loved him.  Judas took from Jesus because He loved himself.

This day, you alone can determine if you are a goat or a sheep.  One thing I know is that there are moments when as a sheep I act like a goat.  In those moments I must be brought back into a deeper love relationship with Christ.

For further study consider, Matthew 7:21-28 and Galatians 4 where we are reminded of all we have been given as adopted children of God.  

A New Way To Live

November 15, 2011

God alone guided him, no foreign God was with him,” Deut. 32:12.

Last week I read the story of Joe Frazier who passed away last Tuesday after a battle with liver cancer. Joe Frazier was 67.  Joe’s claim to fame came in the late 1960’s when he won the gold metal in boxing at the 1966 olympics.  He later became heavyweight champion of the world.  He carried this title from 1968-1973.  His victories included a victory over Ali. As a follower of Christ, there was one thing I noticed that was missing from his life story.  “The decision to follow Christ.”

In every person’s life there is a Before Christ life.  But those who have been called by God have an After Christ life.  This morning this was vividly illustrated for me in Exodus 19-20.  The nation of Israel had been chosen by God to be His people.  “You know how I bore you on Eagles wings and brought you to myself,” 19:4. 

Because of God’s choosing Israel was freed from slavery to serve the true and living God.  All God asked Israel to do was simply, “Obey His voice and keep his covenant.”   In chapter 20 God gives Israel 10 simple conditions of their new way of life.  Once Israel received these commandments, she knew she could not stand in God’s presence without a mediator.  This mediator was Moses (20:19).  What a picture this is of the true Mediator between Man and God the man Christ Jesus, Hebrews 12:22.

Israel was to live in a new way, but even with Moses as a mediator she could not live up to the commandments.  God’s covenant emphasized a love for God (Commandments 1-4) and a love for others (Commandments 5-10).  Israel’s struggle was in the fact that she was trying to live a new way with a heart that had not changed.  Israel still loved herself above all others.  Eventually Israel’s heart would turn her completely away from God and she would lose her status before God.

Question, “How are you doing with this new way to live?”  The answer to this question, lies within your heart!!!  Certainly there are those who would disagree with me by saying, “If you keep all these commandments, you are right with God.”  But this flies in the face of scripture that clearly teaches, God desires, “That we love Him, with all of our heart, soul, and mind. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves,” Matthew 22:37-38.

Dear Lord:

     “Help me to learn and obey your commandments because I want to love you more.  Help me to learn and obey your commandments because I want to know how to love my neighbor more.  This dear Lord is for the sole purpose of making you famous in the world.”   

Certainly, I do not know Joe Frazier’s heart.  But I do know my heart.  My heart without Jesus would never want to fulfill this new way of living.  I am so thankful for my Mediator (Jesus Christ) who has made me a new-creation with a desire to live a new life.

Irresistible

June 10, 2011

“No one can eat just one.”  This was the slogan for one of my favorite potato-chip companies when I was just a child.  The Lay’s potato chip was so great that no one could eat just one.  I later would discover, it was not the chip but the salt on the chip that triggered something within me that said,”I want more.”

I wonder, “What inside of you triggers you to say, ‘I want more.'”  The fact is, inside of every person is a sin nature that constantly says,”I want more.”  If you do not believe this, try to resist any type of sin, big or small.  The book of Galatians speaks about all the forces within that are saying, “I want more.”  Check it out in Galatians 5:17-20.  

I also wonder, “What inside of you triggers you to say, ‘I want more of God.'”  This same chapter of Galatians speaks about the new nature that is governed by the Holy Spirit.  This new nature cries out, “more of God.”  You must daily make the choice of following the new nature and not the old.

This is one of the great blessings of being a child of God.  However for a moment, consider with me what life would be like without the new nature.  As I read Isaiah 14-18, I was reminded of nations that lived their lives apart from God.  Isaiah uses descriptive words such as “Prideful, hateful, murders, thieves, idol worshippers, abusers of the poor, and evil doers.” 

Such people are following an irresistible force called the old nature.  But there is something irresistible these people do not understand, “God’s irresistible wrath.”  Here the word of the Lord: “This is the purpose that is purposed concerning the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretched out over all the nations.  For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it?  His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back,” 14:26-27.

God’s wrath is irresistible.  No man will be able to stand against, reason away, or plead for forgiveness on judgment day.  We only have this day to confess, admit, and plead for forgiveness.  By the grace of God we who are His children have seen our sin, confessed our sin, and pleaded for forgiveness.  We who are His children have been blessed to be granted His forgiveness.

Around the throne of God in Revelation 5 we find the following song being sung, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed your people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth,” 5:9-10.

I praise God for what we have been delivered from and I praise God for what we have been delivered unto.  May this weekend find you, serving Him in His house with a passion to love the God who has done so much for you.

When You Don’t Know How

June 6, 2011

This morning I found myself engaged in two different intriguing scenes.  The first scene was an interview Mike Huckabee conducted with Tim Tebow.  Here was Huckabee’s question, “How do you deal with temptation.”  Tim’s answer was amazing.

The second scene is found in the first five chapters of Isaiah.  The nation of Israel has completely disregarded God’s direction for their lives.  They have fully embraced temptation, however at the same time they have continued to worship.  Here is God’s reply, “I cannot endure iniquity and solomon assembly,” Isaiah 1:13.  

In this moment both scenes comes together for me.  Both a nation and an individual deal with the question of sin and temptation.  Notice how, Isaiah instructs the people to deal with their sin, “Wash yourselves, and make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,” 1:16.  

As I read these words, I immediately cried out to God, “I don’t know how.” Jim Reimann wrote, “So often the lost think they need to clean themselves up to come to Jesus.  What they do not realize, however, is that they are powerless to do so.” Cited on Pg. 159, “Look Unto Me, Devotions From The Pen Of Charles Spurgeon.”

Neither Tim Tebow, the Nation Of Israel, or Keith Joseph can overcome sin and temptation on our own.  Tm Tebow gave a wonderful testimony as to how we overcome. He said, “Only when I surrendered my life to Christ did victory come.  And only in Christ do I have victory today.”  These are the same words Isaiah spoke, “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become wool,” 1:18.  

Our God has cleansed us and created us new again for His glory.  Today I live a life that others who knew me when would have to say, “I don’t know how.”  Truly, no believer can ever say, “Look what I have done.” It is all Christ.

So, please allow me to encourage you to tell people the wonderful story of how Christ did for you what you could not do. Please allow me to encourage you to praise our wonderful Savior for His work on our behalf.  Please allow me to encourage you to daily learn how to walk this new road called the road of sanctification.

When It All Comes Out

May 24, 2011

This morning I found myself walking through I Kings 14-16 in a who’s who of Kings in Israel and Judah.  Each passage ended with, “Now the rest of the acts of ____ and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.   As I read these chapters it was a somber reminder of Jesus words, “There is none righteous, no not one.” 

As I studied, one king stood out.  This King’s name was Ahab. Here is God’s commentary about his life, “Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger, than all the kings of Israel who were before him,” 16:33.  As I read this commentary, I wrote in the margin of my bible, “A man who did more.”  However, quickly God reminded me of my own sin nature.  I was reminded that it way my sin that caused the death of Christ.  I was reminded that, even though I have been redeemed, there is still the old nature present within me that has shameful capabilities, Gal 5:16-19.

But above all I was reminded of the blood of Christ that has washed away my sins.  Because He has wiped away my sins, “It will never all come out how wicked I truly am.”  The words of the Psalmist are so dear to me, “As far away as the east is to the west, so far has he removed our sin from us,” Psalm 103:12.  

Today I walk in newness of life because of Christ.  Today I can live above the charges that my past cry out within my mind.  Paul wrote, “Who can lay a charge against God’s elect.  It is God who justifies,” Romans 8:34.  

When I look at Ahab’s life, I think, if not for the grace of God, there go I.  So on this day, if you are a follower of Christ, praise Him for His cleansing power in your life.  If you are not a follower of Christ, come to Jesus for the cleansing today.  If you have unconfessed sin, confess to Jesus today.  Get it all under the blood, so that you can once again walk in the newness of life you have been given by grace.

What Is Your Story?

April 15, 2011

This mornings headlines included the story of Walter Breuning, of Great Fall Montana.  He died this morning at the young age of 114.  He was the world’s oldest man.  Certainly this man must have had many stories about life to share with those who would listen.

This morning, I found myself thinking in the direction of humanities life story.  How I ended up here is simple.  As I read Hebrews 11, the story of Enoch caught my spiritual eye.  Here is what the writer of Hebrews wrote about him, “For before he was taken he had this testimony…” At this moment God pricked my heart with this question, “What was his story?”

Now read carefully.   His story was unique in certain life experiences, “God took him.”  However his life and our lives are exactly common in two ways.  First, each of us are born as sinners under the wrath of God.  Secondly, each of us are going to die because we are sinners under the wrath of God.

Even though Walter Breuning lived 114 years, he still died.  This same reality will come to your life and my life at some point.  It is the common lot of humanity.  However there is a third thing each of us who are born will have in common.  We will each stand before God on the day  of judgment.  When we stand there, our story will determine where we spend eternity.  What are the choices?  The choices are heaven and hell.

Now for a moment let us look back at Enoch.  What is his story?  His story is simply this, “He pleased God.”  This statement about his life gives us eternal insight in how a person spends eternity in heaven.

Enoch and everyone else who enters heaven does so only because they please God.  Now stay with me.  How do we please God?  Here is what the writer of Hebrews said, “But without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” 11:6.

Question, “What was his faith in?”  Was it in the works of his own life?  The answer is no.  So what was his faith in?  His faith was in God, “Must believe that He is.”  Enoch placed all of his hopes of forgiveness, cleansing, and eternal life in God alone.

For me, this truth leaped off the page.  The way we please God is to place all of our faith in Jesus work on the cross.  What God is pleased with is not the story of how we had great faith to do good things or how we were wonderful in going to church or feeding the poor.  God is pleased with Jesus work on the cross.

Here is how the writer of Hebrews describes this, “And for this reason He is the mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance,” 9:15.  Praise God, this is the story I want to be told when I die.