Monday, September 29, 2008
How many times have you heard yourself, or others, use this term when describing some event in your life? Especially if we are recalling an experience that left us with a unpleasant memory. We can always think of several "what if" scenarios, that could have changed the outcome. This is fairly common, even among Christians who have the Holy Spirit to guide them. If we really understood what Jesus said in chapters 14-17 of the gospel of John about the Holy Spirit, we should never have a reason to use this expression again!
Jesus clearly stated that when He returned to heaven, after completing the work of redemption of fallen man, He would send the Holy Spirit to take His place on planet earth. We know from reading the book of Acts that every thing that Jesus spoke about, as recorded in the gospels, came to pass exactly as He said. I would suggest that you read these chapters again carefully, and especially notice the verses that tell exactly what the Holy Spirit will do for us when He comes. For example (John 14:26, 15:26, 16:5-13, 17:11-15), all are meant to give us the assurance that our Father in heaven has made ample provision for us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Our part is to read His Word, believe it, and obey it's commands. If we did this faithfully, we should never have a reason to say "what if"----! Thank God His Word still contains verses like (1 John 1:9) to cover us when we fall short and confess it as sin, then we can receive forgiveness and cleansing, and get on with our life!
Monday, September 22, 2008
SINNER OR SAINT?
Both of these terms are quite commonly used in church circles, but not fully understood by some people. Anyone who is familiar with the Bible probably knows that a "sinner" is anyone who has not accepted Jesus as their personal Savior. There are many scriptures like (John 3:3), or (2 Cor 5:17) that clearly tell us of the need to be "born again". This is because we all inherited a sinful rebellious nature from our parents, who in turn inherited it from their parents, all the way back to Adam. Paul the apostle, who wrote much of the NT, was given much revelation by God into this truth. In (Rom 5:12) we are told how this sin came into the world through Adam. Then in (Eph 2:1-10) he explains more fully the good news of the gospel, and what we must do to be saved from this sinful condition that we all find ourselves in. The good news is that by accepting what Jesus did for mankind on the cross where He paid the price for our redemption, we can become a member of God's spiritual family. Jesus said He was the only way to God the Father (John 14:6), and in spite of what certain religions teach, and even what some church traditions tell us, if we ever hope to go to heaven when we die, we must confess that we are a "sinner" in need of a "Savior". Many people who attend church regularly have never done this because they believe that by following some tradition they were taught, they are ready now for heaven when they die. These people are in for a rude awakening when they find themselves in hell some day! There is only one way into God's heaven and that is through the door that Jesus opened for us when He died for our sins on Calvary!
The confusion in people's minds about the term "saint" is directly due to a teaching in certain church circles, that saints are certain people who have been declared a saint because of some outstanding achievement in their life. We find many churches named after these people, and also towns or cities etc. This title is always bestowed on them often many years after they die. The truth from scripture is that every person who has become a member of God's family by receiving Jesus as their personal Savior is considered a "saint"! This is the term that Paul often used to refer to believers in the letters he wrote to the churches he founded. For example read (Rom 1:1-7),or many other places in the NT and you will find the followers of Jesus referred to as saints. In some of the newer translations you might find words like believers or God's holy people etc. instead of saints, but they are the same true believers in Jesus, and the main point is that they are "alive saints", and not dead for many years! In (Col 1:13) we read about how sinners become saints by being transferred from Satan's kingdom of darkness, into God's Kingdom of light, which happens the moment we receive Christ as Savior, and not some time after we die. This is only one of many ways the church has caused confusion in believer's minds because of their traditions that are not based on the Word of God!
Monday, September 15, 2008
COMPARING LIFE TO AN ELEVATOR
I recently read a little article about elevators that gave me the thought for what I will try to share. We often view our life as a linear progression of time, with one event following an other in an orderly fashion, like spring follows winter. Perhaps we should rather view our life more like an elevator, that takes us up to a new level of maturity each year. We all start at ground level where we start learning the basic lessons of life. Then every year thereafter, we learn new things and progress upward on our journey of life. At every level of life we meet new people, and experience new things that all add to our maturity level. What we learn at each level prepares us for the next, and so our life progresses always upward. Some of us now find ourselves getting on in years, and it is becoming more difficult to remember all that we have learned at the previous lower levels. So here the comparison of life to an elevator perhaps ceases to apply.
Of course there are certain experiences in our lives that greatly affect all later events, either for good or for evil. If these experiences are bad they can cause an emotional wound that will stay with us until we allow God to heal it at some later date. I have met people who have arrived at the 50th, or 60th level of their life, and still carry the effects of some tragic event they experienced on level 5 or 6. This is always unfortunate, and unnecessary, because God is willing and able to go back in time and correct the problem. Because He is not limited to time and space like we are, He is able to do that. So if you happen to be reading this, and you have been carrying something from years ago that you want to get rid of, we recommend you simply confess it to the Lord and ask Him to remove it.(1 John 1:9). Or perhaps you could share it with a trusted friend and together pray about it (Matt 18:19).
Sunday, September 7, 2008
That is a question that often comes to mind when I think seriously about my relationship with God. We all need forgiveness for our many sins, resulting from our rebellious sinful nature inherited from Adam. One of the results of carrying this sin, is the guilt we continually feel. This comes from our guilty conscience which is our God given gauge that is meant to cause us to repent and turn back to our Creator. But when we finally do this, and receive Jesus as our personal Savior from our sins, and are "born again" into the family of God, where do these sins go? They go somewhere, accompanied by the guilt they have caused our soul!
The scriptures were given to us by God to answers such questions. In the book of Psalms we read in (Psa 103:12) "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west". What a profound statement! We know that if we should start at any point on planet earth to travel west, we could continue to travel west forever and never reach a place called east. And the same thing could be said for travelling east from the same spot. Then in (Micah 7:18-20) God gives a promise to His chosen people Israel, that he will pardon their guilt, and "trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean". This is another tremendous promise, and although we may not be part of the nation of Israel, if we are born into God's family, then we are part of His "elect", some times referred to as His "forever family".
The above mentioned scriptures from the OT give us part of the answer to our question, but probably the best answer comes from the NT letter to the church at Colosse (Col 2:13-15) where we read in verse 14 "He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross." On the cross when Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, and died in our place, the sin debt against you and I was "paid in full"!! (2 Cor 5:21) Our sins, and the guilt associated with them were "absorbed", so to speak, into the very person of Christ! This is the core truth of the Gospel (good news)of the Kingdom of God, and is a truth that is worth spending time trying to wrap your mind around!
Monday, September 1, 2008
HOW TO FIND GOD
In (Isa 55:6) we read "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near", and in (Acts 17:27) "His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him---though He is not far from any one of us". He desires to make Himself known, but He still wants us to seek Him by faith. In (Heb 11:6) we read "And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists, and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him". Many other scriptures could be quoted along this same line, stating clearly that our Creator God desires a relationship with us!
You see this is the basic difference between the Religions of the world, and Christianity. Religion is man's attempt to somehow find and please their concept of "god", by following certain rules or regulations, and hoping that their "god" will accept their efforts in trying to work their way up to him. True Christianity, on the other hand, is accepting the fact that God has already taken the initiative to establish a relationship with man, by sending His Son Jesus Christ to earth, to redeem us from our sins! So Christianity is not a "Religion", but a "Relationship" with our Father God, through His Son Jesus! This was accomplished by Jesus, who knew no sin, becoming sin for us and dying on the cross on Calvary to pay the price of our sin and separation from God. (2 Cor 5:17-21) This makes all the difference in the world between the two systems, a fact that many sincere people fail to understand. Our tradition of "doing church", especially in the western world, has certainly added to the problem. Many sincere Christians have failed to see this difference between religion and a true relationship with Jesus! Recently I read a little poem that states this clearly.
"Man gropes his way through life's dark maze;
To gods unknown he often prays,
Until one day he meets God's Son--
At last he's found the Living One!" ---D.DeHaan
If you have not yet met Jesus as your personal Savior, why not give Him a chance to prove Himself to you? I've never yet met a person who has been disappointed with Him!