WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?

A small child [in the cartoon series Theopolis] gazes up at the eyes of his father and asks the question…WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN?

When I read the dialogue in the cartoon I thought the father gave a reasonably good answer to his son.  He emphasized communication with the Father, seeking first the Kingdom of heaven, displaying the fruit of the Spirit in one’s life.  It wasn’t a bad answer.  But imagine the father’s shock if you can when the son asked if he had actually seen such a person!

Is it possible, as the above cartoon suggests, that we sometimes talk a good talk, but walk a poor walk?  We might be able to tell others what a Christian is–may even profess to be one ourselves–but have we ever shown them?

The 3 W’s That Explains What A Christian Is And How We Can Demonstrate Who We Are

#1.  WHAT WE ARE, 1 John 3:1 (NIV)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

John here turns his letter from the world to God.

The world’s glory may be glamorous and enticing, but also shallow and momentary.  What the world gives today, it takes away tomorrow.

God gives something permanent, something authentic, something life-changing, something eternal and something to gaze upon in [VERSE 1 (NKJV)]:

IT’S THE LOVE OF GOD!

Those who have been born of God, meaning those that practice righteousness (2:29), is now “called children of God.”

RIGHTEOUSNESS begins with faith and ends in LOVE.

The reason we are told to “BEHOLD” is to see what great love the Father has bestowed upon us.

“Behold” (idou) means to sense and see, and to see with awakened understanding.  It calls one to stop and think about this amazing truth and what we are to sense, see and marvel at is the GREAT LOVE God has given us.

LOVE is agape, denoting divine or the highest form of love.  The whole wonderful plan of SALVATION begins with God.  And while we were once enemies, God loved us and sent His Son to die for us (Rom. 5:8).  His LOVE is so great that by the NEW BIRTH experience, we are now related to the One Who is the Divine Creator of the Universe and can call him Father!

We Are The Children Of God!

We receive from Christ a new nature, a godly nature, and thus are called children of God.

We shouldn’t expect the world around us to understand this thrilling relationship because it doesn’t understand the awesomeness of God.  This love and resulting sonship are foreign to the world.  Only a person who knows God through Jesus Christ can appreciate what it means to be called a child of God.  Unfortunately, we have become so accustomed to EXPECTING God’s love we no longer stand in awe before it.  In fact, we actually take it for granted.  We even think of it as something God owes us.

When I was a young romantic boy in elementary school, I remember taking the DAISY PETAL TEST sitting on a bench in the lunch arbor.  I had a crush for weeks on a girl and holding a flower in my hand while looking across the table at her and saying as I pulled each petal off, “She loves me, She loves me not.”  I also remember “the look” when she reached for the same flower, pulling off the last petal and said, “He loves me not.”

There’s a much better and more reliable way to know if God loves us!

It’s considering all that He does for us.  And if there’s still any doubt, then think of what He did to SAVE us!

The Bible says that “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)

We can become confident in the knowledge of God’s unfailing LOVE because He has proven it beyond all question on the Cross.  We have been reborn into the family of God as His children and the recipients of our Father’s LOVE.

THIS AMAZING LOVE MADE US CHILDREN OF THE KING!

This brings us to our second point:

#2.  WHAT WILL WE BE?  (verse 2)

The emphasis in verse two is on what the children of God will be in the future.

The reference here is, of course, to the time of Christ’s return for His Church.  Having spoken of our present dignity as children of God, John now speaks of our FUTURE DESTINY.

We Are Privileged Children.

Our privileged opportunities in this world are understandable and within reach of all who will lay hold of them abiding in Christ Jesus.  But, the reluctant glories in the world to come are still veiled.  For the BLESSINGS there are connected with the RESPONSIBILITIES here!  The fact that God expects future development as seen in verse one and then seen again in verse two, is where the beloved (“friends”) are addressed as CHILDREN OF GOD.

Child implies that future development is to be expected.  A child has such potential as they grow.  We look at them as children with hope and expectation but don’t know how they’ll turn out.  Some who seem to have so much potential and opportunity throw away their lives.  Others you didn’t think will amount to much accomplish great things.

So it is with the children of God.  Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.

The appearance of Christ brings about changes or results in God’s children.

The results of Christ’s appearing is that we will be like Him.  This future fact of being changed into Christ’s likeness is presently known.  KNOW means “perceptive knowledge” that brings one to the point or place of understanding and then conviction.  The fact that we KNOW now is because of the PROMISE given from the Word and the Holy Spirit in supporting our confidence in the truth of our future state,

A Butterfly Emerges!

What an amazing sight to see a Monarch Butterfly emerging from its cocoon and arraying the beautiful colors overs its wings before taking flight.  Who would think that such beauty could come from a drab cocoon?

But a much greater miracle awaits the child of God!

Encased by this body, we look for that day when “the dead will be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.”  (1 Cor. 15:52)

For now, we live in these earthly bodies, but not forever.

One day, perhaps soon, we will be made perfect and complete.  We shall see our Savior face to face, and wonder of wonders, we shall be like Him!

God’s LOVE for us doesn’t stop with the New Birth.

God continues ministering to us and transforming us into His image until the revelation of Jesus causes the final, culminating revelation of who we are in Him.

Those Christ purchased at His Cross will be perfected at His coming.

#3.  WHAT WE SHOULD BE (v. 3)

Verse 3 teaches us that if we hope in our transformation at the return of Jesus, then we should keep on, keeping on purifying our lives.

1 John 3:3 (NIV)

[3] Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

So, everyone who has the HOPE purifies, or frees oneself of contamination.

Purify ( Grk., hagmos), is the cleanliness of heart, soul, and spirit of thought, word, and action.

“Purifies himself” means that we must totally surrender to God, so that by His Grace (His unmerited favor), we may separate ourselves all that defiles us.  It’s a continuous process.

Our Goals As  A Believer…

Our goal should be pure just as Christ is pure.  Not to judge our lives by other people, but by Jesus, who is the standard or goal toward which we are to move towards.  God’s desire is that we are conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).

As we read the Gospels carefully and thoughtfully, prayerfully, then you will develop an appreciation for the character, integrity, wisdom, and strength of Jesus.

When I didn;\’t know as much about Jesus as I know now–and I’m still learning daily–. I wasn’t as impressed with Him as I am today.

All the work of transformation is because of the Father’s LOVE for you and me.

Because the Father loved us and sent His Son to die for us, we are children of God.

Because God loves us and lives within us, He wants us to live with Him one day.

SALVATION from start to finish is an expression of the LOVE of God.  We are saved by the GRACE of God (Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 2:11-15).

The provision for our SALVATION originated in the LOVE of God.  And since we have experienced the LOVE of the Father, we should have no desire to live in sin (the “flesh”).

An unbeliever who sins is a creature sinning against his Creator.  A Christian who sins is a child sinning against his Father.  The unbeliever sins against the LAW; the believer sins against LOVE.

One Day The Trumpet Will Sound And We Will Ascend!!!

The time to get ready for that turmpet blast is now!  Go to Christ Jesus and become PURE like Him.  That will prepare you in making the ascent–to the glories of Heaven!

Is the hope of being like Jesus a powerful inspiration/motivation in your life?  If it is, you will be purifying yourself as the Holy Spirit transforms your image of Christ.

Are you feeling perplexed by the questions…WHO AM I?  WHERE AM I GOING?

What comfort it is as  a TRUE BELIEVER in Christ to have God’s authoritative answers in the Bible:

WHO ARE WE?

John calls his readers “children of God” (v. 2).

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

John 14:1-6 tells us that one day He will receive us into our eternal home [body?] He is preparing for us.

When you know Jesus, you know who you are and where you are going

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CREDITS:

Dictionary:  Know, Knowledge: Baker’s Evangrlical Dictionary of Bilical Theology.

Photos/Images:  Google Image search.

A Butterfly Emerges:  Youtube 

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or as noted in images or text.

 

 

 

“Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way!” – BUT Whose Will?

SCRIPTURE:  Luke 22:39-46

“…not my will, but yours, be done.”  (v. 42)

To find out what is the will of God and to do it whole-heartedly I want to begin this study with one of my favorite musicals put on film, one that most people are familiar with – The Sound Of Music.

“How do you solve a problem like Maria?”

How do you solve the problem?  The answer is easy – you make her someone else’s problem!  (Captain Von Trapp).

Here’s a girl who’s always getting herself in trouble!  She’s always off doing her own thing!  She doesn’t conform, she doesn’t follow the rules – but she desperately wants to!

Maria was a square peg in a round hole….she wasn’t where she was meant to be, doing what she was meant to do.  Does any of this sound familiar?

On a spiritual level, do you sometimes feel that you’re off “doing your own thing”–not really doing what you’re meant to be doing?  Do you sometimes think that you are trying as hard as you can to be holy; you’re trying your best to do all that is expected of a good Christian–but you never quite seem to make it?   How many times have I personally been in these instances and looked up and yelled:

“HELP ME! Give me solace, Lord!”

Spiritually speaking, perhaps you find yourself as a square peg in a round hole and ask yourself are you where you are meant to be?  Are you doing what you were meant to do?

After watching the movie clips. the Reverend-Mother asked Maria a very significant question,  “What is the most important lesson you have learned here…”  Maria’s response was very profound I thought,  “To find out what is the will of God and to do it whole-heartedly.”  If someone asked me what one lesson have I learned in life I would have to say I have learned “to seek out God’s will and then do it gladly–even if I don’t want to do it!”

In the scripture referenced you can read a moment in the life of Christ about His Father’s WILL and His own WILL where they seem to be at odds with each other.

To put this in context, Jesus was fully aware of His impending death.  He had just spent time in the upper room celebrating the Last Supper with His disciples, preparing them for what was going to happen.

Jesus had now taken them to the Mount of Olives to pray.

The text tells us that this was a regular thing for them to do–but on this particular night, there seems to be a particular tension among them.

For the disciples, the Last Supper had just been a confusing and emotional time.  Jesus had been talking about feeding them with His body and blood, there had been a fight over who was the most important disciple, and Jesus had scolded Peter for asking about the restoration of the nation–and even gone on to tell that Peter would be about even knowing Him–the Peter who Jesus would build His Church upon.  And just before the disciples had left to go to the Mount of Olives, Jesus told them to arm themselves with swords!!!

On the Mount of Olives Jesus commanded them to PRAY–

But the poor exhaustive disciples, like Maria in the Sound of Music, didn’t live up to what was expected of them.

They tried to be “good Christians,” they tried to pray, but sleep got the better of them.

For Jesus, the stress of the situation was obvious, in sweating buckets.  I can almost hear the anguish in His voice as He prays,  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me…”

Jesus wanted one thing, but His Father wanted another…

At this moment Jesus wanted to be spared the physical pain and agony, the ridicule and embarrassment, the provocation and aggravation that was to come–God wanted Him to go through it–so the rest of the world could be reconciled to Himself.

Jesus wanted to be spared the defilement of taking on the sins of the world–BUT this was God’s WILL for Him–

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”  (NIV).

And now God’s GRACE…

Those poor disciples!!!  The loved Jesus with all their hearts.  They wanted to please Him, wanted to follow Him–and they did so earnestly.  They wanted to obey Him and live out His leading, even if they didn’t always get it right.  We probably could say that their “hearts were in the right place,”  for they faithfully followed Jesus, even though His teachings didn’t always make sense.  The faithful followed Him, even when they messed up–and when they messed up, they tried hard not to make the same mistake twice.

As for Jesus, He was the dutiful Son!

He knew that His Father knows best.

He knew that His Father’s WILL superseded His own will.

Jesus knew that He had a choice to make–He could follow His own instinct for self-preservation and have the whole purpose of His mission fail, or…

He could submit to His Father’s WILL and believe that “all things work together for good…”  (Romans 8:28)

The dutiful Son loved His Father –

He trusted His Father, He knew that His Father would work everything out for the best.

Jesus was willing to PRAY, “Father, I don’t want to do what you are asking me to do–but I’ll do it anyway if you really want me to!”

How much LOVE, how much TRUST do you need to have in someone before you can say that to them?  I had to think about that for a moment–think how much He loved me to be willing to die for me, for us!  How much He trusted His Father’s will–to be obedient unto death!

Surely Jesus knew what He was talking about when He said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Jesus was willing to do God’s WILL before His very own…

JUDGMENT in the World –

Ask yourself, Am I like Maria?  Are you like the disciples?

Maybe you’re struggling within the basics of Christian living–perhaps you just can’t stick to this praying and Bible reading every day– “I just can’t seem to find time in my busy life; getting the kids ready in the mornings, keeping the house straight, fixing meals and then doing it all over again each and every day!”

Maybe your struggle is with THE CALLING–maybe you have sensed God calling you out to a particular task, but you don’t want to do that!!!

Given that my calling is teaching, I’m thinking specifically of a call to teach–but there are many other calls and vocations from God too.  Whatever our struggle may be, we must “…find out what is the WILL of God and to do it wholeheartedly.”

GRACE in the World –

The GOOD NEWS is that we can know the WILL of God for us, and the Bible tells us how…

Romans 12:1-2 says,

So the KEY is to present ourselves as living sacrifices–a SACRIFICE is simply something that has been offered.  Something that has been given to God.

Have you given your life over to God…completely?  Isn’t that the first step to take as you seek to discover God’s WILL for your life?

The next step is to… “not conform to the pattern of this world”–we are to be TRANSFORMED by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

“I DARE TO BE DIFFERENT”

Len Ballentine’s chorus says,

I dare to be different, I dare to believe;

I dare to be different, God’s Spirit receives.

I dare to be different, my life sacrificed;

I dare to be different by living like Christ.

Do I “dare to be different”?

Do you “dare to be different”?

Do you dare to SACRIFICE your life to live like Jesus?

In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, he tells us that only by offering ourselves–that being available and living a life that’s different from the world around us, that we actually gain the ability to discern what God’s perfect will is for us.

There’s an old cliché that says, God doesn’t look at our ability, rather He looks at our availability.

HOW AVAILABLE ARE YOU?

IS THE LORD THE LORD OF YOUR LIFE?

IS HE THE KING OF YOUR VERY BEING?

My prayer for you is found in the chorus of one of my favorite Praise songs, Reign In Me:

When we sing the words we are surrendering, we are sacrificing ourselves to God.  We are making ourselves available to Him.  We are yielding to His will.

How about you?  Are you willing to make that sacrifice, making yourself available for Him to use you in any situation?

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CREDITS:

PHOTO IMAGES:  Google Image Search

Music Videos:  YouTube.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); or where noted in the photo/images, or in the text.

 

Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide!

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  Revelation 6:1-17

SINNER MAN –

I first heard this song on the car radio the year after my wife and I were married, in 1965.  I was struck by the question in the lyric, “Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run To?”  I discovered later that the song originated from an African American spiritual song that had been recorded by a number of performers (Bob Marley, Peter, Paul and Mary, Les Baxter and more).

The lyrics go on telling the story with…He [the sinner man] runs to the rock, to the sea, to the Lord and ultimately to Satan because he comes face to face with the wrath of God and he’s so frightened he’s looking for ANY way to avoid God’s anger.  But there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide because he had rejected God for so long there was no longer hope.

I thought to myself, now where would the writer for this old spiritual song get his idea?

Right here in Revelation 6.

That’s pretty scary stuff!

These SINNERS are running from God.  They’re RUNNING from the wrath of the Lamb.

In my reading of John’s words here, something just didn’t seem to correlate with my knowledge of the bible.  John 3:16 tells us that “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And Jesus spent His time among the tax collectors, and the prostitutes and the SINNERS.

Over and over again we read throughout the New Testament hearing the message repeated and it all seems to be summed up in 2 Peter 3:9.  “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to yo repentance.”

BUT in our passage in Revelation Chapter 6, we have sinners running from the Wrath of the Lamb.  They are running from the wrath of the very One who died for them.  What’s going on here?

After re-reading and meditating on the previous verses in the chapter, the answer is found in verses 9 thru 10:

I see two things in play here.  1st – the scene here shows God’s vengeance on mankind.  As Hebrews 10:30 tells us and we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”

The major focus in Revelation 6 is GOD’S JUDGMENT on those who’ve persecuted and slain His people in the name of His Son Jesus.

Jesus, while on this earth, told us what was going to happen when He said “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.” (Luke 6:22).

AND Luke 21:17 – “And you will be hated (despised) by everyone because [you bear] My name and for its sake.”  [AMP]

John wrote in 1 John 3:13 – “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”

DID IT HAPPEN?

Yes!  Within the first 3 years of the EARLY church’s existence.

  • The Apostle James was executed.
  • Peter was thrown into prison.
  • Philip was stoned to death.
  • And a man named Saul had Christians arrested, jailed, beaten and even killed.

And that was just the beginning.

Down through the ages Christians have been murdered and tortured for their FAITH.

In my research, for this study, I came across some statistics that shocked me. [See Footnote [i].]

Every month…

  • 255 Christians are killed.
  • 104 are abducted.
  • 180 Christian women are raped, sexually assaulted or forced into marriage.
  • 60 churches are attacked.
  • 160 Christians are detained without trial and imprisoned.

And this isn’t a new situation for BELIEVERS.  Christians have been suffering and dying for their FAITH for centuries!

And Jesus’ Revelation to John is telling us that God knew this would happen and it made Him angry.

And He was so angry that He said:  “Vengence is Mine”.

You REALLY don’t want to be on the receiving end of that kind of anger.

Paul wrote:  “God is just:  He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you”  (2 Thessalonians 1:6).

I literally feel sorry for the people who try to harm God’s people because I know the truth of Revelation 6.  You don’t mess with God’s people!

Hebrews 10:31tells us “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

So the 1st thing I see in Revelation 6 is THIS:

  • God will bring JUDGMENT on those who hurt His people.

But there is something else here that I almost missed:

God’s JUDGMENT isn’t just about VENGEANCE, it’s ALSO about reaching out to the lost!

In the Youtube video presentation at the beginning of this Blog, listen to this verse:

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

RUN TO THE LORD.

“Lord, won’t you hide me?”

“And the Lord said ‘sinner man’ – you shoulda been prayin.”

Do you know what this verse is saying?

It’s saying, it’s too late Sinner Man…you shoulda been a prayin!  BUT you didn’t, so don’t bother me.  You’ve messed up big time and now there’s no hope.

I have a real problem with that thinking.

Isaiah 55:7 – “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

As Long as the wicked are willing to REPENT…God will forgive. 

That’s the MESSAGE throughout Scripture.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us “And just as it is appointed for [all] men once to die, and after that the [certain] judgment”  [AMP].

But these guys (in Revelation 6) aren’t dead yet!  Until they die they still have the opportunity to REPENT.

And besides, it doesn’t say that the “Sinners” were appealing to God.  These folks weren’t running TO Jesus…they were running AWAY from Him.

Revelation 6:15-16 says they “hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains”

These folks aren’t appealing to God to hide them, they “called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne’.” 

They were calling on the rocks and Mountains to fall on them and protect them.

I remember growing up in a home where the punishment my folks dealt out to my brother and I definitely got our attention.  So much so, that even a slight look of dissatisfaction was all that was needed.

And there are times in Scripture where God disciplined entire nations in order to get their attention to REPENT–“turn from their wicked ways”  (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Psalm 32:4, we see David speaking about how God dealt with him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.  He wrote: “For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me…”  (AMP).

It was a repeated theme throughout the Old Testament.  God would slap the people in order to wake them UP!

And God hasn’t changed.  He’s still working on sinners NOW as He did back then.

One of my favorite bible verses is where Jesus says:

What does Jesus mean when He says the Holy Spirit (“the Helper”) will CONVICT?

It means that someone has been convicted of their GUILT.

It means to make a person FEEL their Guilt.

AND that’s the Spirit’s job–to CONVICT people of their SIN.

CONVINCE them of the need of RIGHTEOUSNESS and remind them of the coming judgment.

Now, how’s the Holy Spirit going to do that?

As my mother would try to explain when I was a child:  “That small voice inside of you will make you very uncomfortable, Mel, when you are doing something you shouldn’t.”

Being AWARE…

Being aware of what the Spirit of the Lord is trying to get your attention for.

Be open to receiving His correction and what He is showing you that you need to REPENT of and change direction in your life.

The word REPENT means to turn in the direction you were headed; change the way we did something or the direction we are thinking of proceeding.  [See Footnote [i].]

Remember always, the Holy Spirit is CONVICTING and NOT CONDEMNING us! 

That’s what the enemy does.

HOLY SPIRIT is NOT going to badger or nag us about the same thing.  He is going to show us the MISTAKE–laying it on our hearts to REPENT and ask for forgiveness and then… He is going to expect us to move on.  He will keep on until we do something about it!  That’s not “nagging,” that’s the Father’s LOVE for us.

In reflection and asking myself the question. who do I know, or don’t know today who are living in the ‘spiritual caves’ right now while shaking their fists at God?

Should I be praying that the Holy Spirit might CONVICT them to REPENTANCE?

QUESTION:  “But aren’t these people really God’s enemies and if they are God’s enemies, they have to be mine too? And shouldn’t God’s enemies be put in place–PUNISHED?”

MY ENEMIES–GOD’S ENEMIES deserve to be punished!!

Well, here’s the deal.

If I rejoice when my enemy falls, I prove I’ve missed something.

You see, Jesus came to die for SINNERS.  Now–are my enemies…SINNERS?

Yeah!  I’m pretty sure that’s part of the reason they’re my enemies.

There’s an interesting passage of Scripture from Proverbs 24:17-18 (AMP).

[17] Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown.  [18] Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turns away His wrath from him [to expend Thit upon you, the worse offender].

There’s a hint given in the verses at the fact that your ENEMY is being punished for a reason.

THE REASON is this:

God is punishing your enemy so that you can show them GRACE.  You see God punishes your enemies so that you can come into their lives and show them God’s LOVE for them which lends to REPENTANCE.

You and I need to be constantly reminded by God’s Spirit that we were not SAVED so we could be pampered.

We were SAVED because we were going to HELL!

We were SAVED because we didn’t stand a chance without God’s MERCY!

It’s not that God doesn’t want you to have a better life than you’d have if you didn’t become a Christian; it’s just that God has SAVED us to become something more than just self-centered and self-serving individuals.

GOD SAVED you and I–and enlisted us to be His Ambassadors (His missionaries) to a lost world.            (2 Corinthians 6:20)

Now here’s the deal–you may be thinking that you are not qualified–not important enough to become a missionary–an ambassador.  But if you are willing to go to the “sinner man” during their struggles and SHARE with them the LOVE of God and HOPE of His forgiveness…then you have a chance to change the world!

Are you willing to take a chance?

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote [i] :  Statistics –  https://www.opendoorusa.org/christian-persecution/

Credit:  Charisma News – Discerning the Difference…Between Holy Spirit Conviction and Demonic Condemnation.

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  The New International Version (NIV), or elsewhere noted in the text.

Media:  Sinner Man by the Seekers, 1965.  Courtesy of YouTube. 

 

When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

_______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

Wishin’ and Hopin’ in the New Year!

“Wishing” We Didn’t Have to Say “Goodnight”–

In 1964, my lovely bride and I were married!  On our romantic dates, leading up to September 26, 1964, I would drop her off at her house, walk her to the front door where we would often stand on the porch (depending on the time on the clock), singing the songs that were currently popular and playing on the radio.

“Hoping” to Meet Curfew!

Although Dianne was 20 years old at the time, a 2-AM Curfew was to be strictly enforced or…TROUBLE!  Dianne’s mother would often raise her voice from behind the closed front door,  “Dianne, be quiet. Your dad is asleep!”  That was my future mother-in-law’s way of telling us…it’s late and there will be no ‘hanky-panky’ out there.  What will all the neighbors think while peeking out between their curtains?  One neighbor came out one night to water her garden–at 1:30 AM!

It was a small neighborhood and everyone knew everyone’s business.  I wished we could have stayed outside singing until the sun would rise–but hoping– ‘restriction in dating’ wouldn’t be necessary– as long as…we were obedient to her mom and dad’s rules.

One of my favorite singers back in the olden’ days was Dusty Springfield.  There was one particular song she recorded in 1964, “Wishin’ and Hopin’ “.  For you older readers, do you remember some of the words?

Just wishing and hoping and thinking and praying

planning and dreaming…

The song by the way, wasn’t a ‘religious’ number emphasizing the practice of how to pray in life.  It was a secular song about finding LOVE in your life from someone else.  And if you are wondering where I’m taking all this, let me direct you to grab your Bible and turn with me to the Book of  1 John 2:28-3:1-3 AMP:

What Does HOPE Have to Do With It?

THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!
THE BLESSED HOPE REVEALED!

1 John, Chapter 2:

[28]  And now, little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.  [29]  If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is absolutely righteous (conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought and action), you may also know (be sure) that every one who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [God]. 

1 John, Chapter 3:

[1]  SEE WHAT [an incredible] quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God!  And so we are!  The reason that the world does not know (recognize, acknowledge) Him.  [2]  Beloved, we are [even here and] now God’s children, it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be [hereafter], but we know that when He comes and is manifested we shall [as God’s children] resemble and be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He [really] is.  [3]  And every one who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure–chaste, undefiled, guiltless.”

“HOPE” and “WISHES”–the Differences:

I read an article by Tonya Sheridan in preparation for our study that mentioned the differences between “hoping and wishing”:

A WISH is something that you desire to come true but no basis in reality.  It’s passive, can lead to frustration, even depression.  HOPING is having a DESIRE with REAL EXPECTATION.  To HOPE is believing the things you hope for can happen because you’ve invested time, energy, and passion toward making them happen.

An example of WISHING might sound something like this:  Lord, I’ve been unemployed now for too long!  I WISH you would give me a new job. 

The the Lord would answer by responding to your WISH:  I wish you had a job too! 

HOPING for a job would be praying that God would open the doors of opportunity today, and in HOPING…you actually start looking in confidence.  HOPE is a DESIRE coupled with DISCIPLINE.  God will do His part–you need to do your part.  You have to walk through the open door of opportunity.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary says, HOPE in the New Testament is a ‘favorable and confident expectation’–I like to add a few words to the definition:  With an outstretched neck!

Scripture Examples of “HOPE”:

Ephesians 4:4 – “[THERE IS] one body and one Spirit–just as there is also ONE HOPE [that belongs] to the calling you received–“

The “HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE”:  Titus 1:2, and 3:7

Titus 1:2:  “[Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began.”

Titus 3:7:  “…and that we might become heirs of eternal life according to [our] hope.”

(i.e., “the full manifestation and realization of that life which is already in the believer’s possession.)

The Subject of HOPE–

One of the great themes in the Bible is based on HOPE.  The word occurs over 50 times in the New Testament.

To a BELIEVER:  HOPE is our strength to live healthy, godly, productive lives.  We depend greatly on this element of HOPE that was placed in hearts at accepting Jesus Christ as savior.

Without HOPE, for the unbeliever and the Believer, there is really no reason to expand effort; a state of hopelessness is closely related to a state of death.  HOPE is essential to the human soul, as water or food is to our physical bodies.  And a life without hope is a ‘living hell’.  In fact, it’s one thing that will make hell unbearable!–the absolute absence of HOPE!

GUESS WHO’S HAVING A YARD SALE?

Devil's Yard Sale
Devil’s Yard Sale

The Devil was having a yard sale and all of his tools were marked the name and price.  They were tools like hatred, lust, jealousy, deceit, lying, and pride.  All were carrying a HIGH PRICE TAG!

The Oldest Tool!
A Well-Worn Tool

But set to one side, there was a tool more worn than any other tool.  It was the most costly of the tool inventory.  The tool was labeled, DISCOURAGEMENT.

When asked why this tool was priced so high, the Devil answered,  “It’s more useful to me than any other tool.  When I can’t bring my victims down with any of these other tools, I use DISCOURAGEMENT–sweep them away!  That’s because most of them don’t even realize it belongs to me.”  Have you ever had that tool used on you?  Have you ever lost your JOY because you lost your HOPE?

The apostle Paul wrote to the ROMAN Christians, “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing  (bubbling over) with hope”  (Romans 15:13 AMP).

Have you ever been around a person overflowing in hope?  When I’ve been around a person like that, I want to get all the overflow of hope I can!

A Person Who Is Overflowing With HOPE–

Paul says that person–has the POWER of the Holy Spirit who is also full of joy and peace.  Those are the things that accompany HOPE.  It is amazing what a person full of HOPE can accomplish.

But the Devil also knows that godly hope is a powerful thing.  He will do everything he can to rob you of your confident expectation in God.

THE ISSUE OF FAITH AND HOPE–CAN’T HAVE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER!

If I were to ask you a question right now:  “What are you looking forward to in the New Year?”  How would you answer?  Then, if I were to strengthen that question, asking, “What are you living for?”  I would be touching on the issue of HOPE.

“For in [this] HOPE we were saved.  But HOPE [the object of] which is seen is not HOPE.  For how can one HOPE for what he already sees?  But if we HOPE for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure”  (Romans 8:24-25).

Having HOPE and having FAITH are two of God’s gifts–

1.  HOPE provides purpose and well-being in our belief.

2.  FAITH gives us the strength to keep hoping which in turn, makes us optimistic and loving.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is the one in Hebrews 11–the FAITH Chapter:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality  [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]”  (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).

FAITH is enduring–

Isaiah 7 verse 9 says, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.”  God’s promise to us if we continue to endure, continue to carry on–God will provide for ALL of our needs.

God asks simply for HOPE and FAITH–

Bringing your umbrella when you are faithful–it will rain.

Bring your Bible when you are faithful–you want to share the Word.

Bring your heart when you faithfully want to love someone.

Be HOPEFUL and Be FAITHFUL and God will show you what goodness can come by simply having HOPE and FAITH!

What I Uncovered This Detective Investigation of 1 John 3:1-3:

1 John 3:1:  WHAT WE ARE.

1 John 3:2:  WHAT WE SHALL BE.

1 John 3:3:  WHAT WE SHOULD BE.

First John 3:1:  TELL US what we are and First John 3:2:  TELLS US what we shall be.  The reference here, of course is to the time of Jesus’ coming back for His Bride, the Church.  And although today’s conservative churches confess they believe it, ESCHATOLOGY has become a dormant message from pulpit these last days.  Although, this message of Christ’s return was mentioned in 1 John 2:28 as an incentive of holy living, now it’s repeated once more in the Third Chapter of First John, verse 2.

God’s Love For Us–

God’s LOVE doesn’t stop at the new birth, it continues throughout our lives and takes us right up to the return of Jesus Christ.  When the Lord appears, all true believers will see Him and will become like Him (Phil. 3:20, 21).

This means, of course, we will have new, glorified bodies, suited for heaven [NOT Asbestos, fire-proofed clothing].  But the apostle doesn’t stop here!

He has told us what we are and what we shall be.  Now in 1 John 3:3, he tells us what we should be.

In the HOPE of Christ’s return, we are to keep our lives CLEAN (purified)–

God works through our circumstances:

“Such HOPE never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s LOVE has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:5 AMP).

That’s why John says…all those who have this kind of hope–this certainty–and understands this process, PURIFIES THEMSELVES, even as Christ is PURE!  (1 John 3:3).

But you say,  “Purify myself?  That is the one thing I can’t do.”  And that IS true.  God knows that.  So what does God mean when He says, purify yourself?

You purify yourself when you use the means He’s provided.  You mothers know how this works.

Your little boy has been playing outside and comes to the supper table–covered in dirt.  You send him to the bathroom to purify himself.  And like ALL boys, he turns on the water, runs his hands through it–turns the water off, wipes his hands on the towel, then comes back to the family table.  I know this from personal experience (I was a young boy and I had a son).

And as my mom said to me as she looked me over,  “But you’re not clean.”

Mel:  “Well, I washed myself.”

Mel’s Mom:  “But look at the dirt on your hands and arms, on your face, behind your ears.  You’re not all clean.”

Then every wise mother (my mom was very wise) asks, “Did you use soap?”  Of course he hasn’t, so she sends him back TO USE SOAP.

What is SOAP?

— It is a purifying agent, a cleansing agent.

It will do the job if it is employed.

So when he comes back the second time, he has washed with SOAP;  the SOAP has cleansed him, purified him.  Now he says,

“Look Mom, I’ve cleaned myself up!”  It is true that he did it, but he did it by using his mother’s provision.

THE “PROVISION” FOR OUR CLEANSING:

1.  The WORD of God.

2.  The Spirit of God.

1 John 1:7:  “But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].”

1 John 1:9:  “If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness…”.

This is significant for Believers, and we must begin to take seriously the break in fellowship with Christ Jesus; because of an impatient spirit, an ugly word, a lustful idea, or a thought we have dwelt on, for oh to long.

The stain of it–

It doesn’t disappear with passage of time.  It interferes with our fellowship with the Son of God–we must do something about it.  We can’t simply forget it.

We must PURIFY OURSELVES by using His provision so we might become clean!  That is our desire, our HOPE within us.

I HOPE now, you’ve made a distinction for the upcoming New Year–Wishin’ for things to come won’t bring the desired result.  Only your heartfelt expectation with an “outstretched neck”, will you see the desired results.