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Saved and You Know It

February 6th, 2018

God made salvation simple and certain; confess and believe.

 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

My thoughts and comments today are about, “saved and you know it.”

As a child I learned a simple truth from a few words in a children’s song, “If you’re saved and you know it, then your life will surely show it. If you’re saved and you know it, say Amen.” Matters of eternal salvation must not be left to speculation.

On this matter, you cannot afford to be wrong. The Bible is clear, “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the son does not have life. These things have I written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:12-13 NIV.

There are many people, good people, who have wrongly assumed that being good is all that is required to go to Heaven. They have trusted in their good works, such as: being moral, honest, good neighbors, charitable, or religious, but according to the Bible those are just not good enough. I recall someone observing that, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage can make you a car.” The Bible is clear. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV.

How good is good enough? How many good works make you good enough for Heaven? Would God be fair and just if He left anything as important as your eternal soul to personal assumption or speculation? If I asked you, “What are you trusting right now to allow you into Heaven?” How would you answer? People offer diverse but wrong answers to such a simple question. But it is not what you think that matters, or sincerely believe, or prefer the answer would be, nor anyone else’s opinion that will make Heaven certain as your eternal home.

There is one standard alone for every person in every generation and nation, and that single standard is God’s Word. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 NIV. Who else could you trust to make this eternally consequential matter clear and specific for you? Exclusive? Unfair?

Some people may think so, but a single standard is inclusive, both equally fair and just to one and all. If it will not be adjusted to include someone who fails to meet that righteous standard, then neither could it be adjusted to exclude someone who does. Anyone who accepts God’s Son as their Savior can and will be included – whatever their nationality, language, origin of birth, personal history, or circumstance of life.

The Apostle Paul’s words were unequivocal, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” Romans 10:13 NKJV. No wonder it is called the Good News. No one – absolutely no one – can or will be refused. Here is the simple answer from God’s Word. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’” Romans 10:9-11 NLT. It is important that you know how to make Heaven your eternal home. God made salvation simple and certain. Confess and believe.

In the Greek language in which the New Testament was written, the word for confess – homologeo – literally means, “to say the same thing as.” The Bible is clear, certain, and unalterable, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. When from your heart, you say the same things about your sins that God says, about Jesus dying on the cross as redemption for your sins, and inviting Jesus to be your Savior, you receive complete forgiveness and confidence to embrace His promise of eternal salvation. God’s promise is specific and sure.

Here is how you are saved. Ask Jesus to forgive every disobedience and sin, place your faith and trust in Him as your Savior, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s confirming whisper in your heart that you are His and He is yours. Then believe and rejoice that God has done exactly what He promised He would do. You experience no greater joy than knowing your sins are forgiven forever. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Hebrews 8:12 NKJV. God will forget your sins. He will never forget you.

The Gospel is simple, clear, certain, true, and powerful to save. “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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-18 NIV.

Reading that phrase, “to save the world though Him,” are you amazed by the expansive scale and global scope of God’s heart and eternal agenda for the whole world? His love, grace, and passion was and remains as broad as to transform every nation, as far reaching as to redeem every generation, and yet as specific and personal as to redeem each single individual – “to save the world though Him.”

I love the sentiment of the aging apostle John when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” 3 John 2 NIV. That is my sentiment, my joy, and my prayer for you.

Today, I pray for you to be certain about your salvation, never leaving eternity to chance.

Christian Communications 2018-307

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Unfinished Business

September 22nd, 2015

“As much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV.

Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “unfinished business.”

There are probably things in your life left unfinished for various reasons, some unavoidably and some unwisely. There are things started but later found not to be all that important, or matters begun without enough commitment, time, or resource to sustain effort. At other times pressing priorities displace previous intentions. Some situations require others’ cooperation or willingness, which they may be unwilling to provide. Occasionally though, there are things that should not be left undone. Jesus chided the Pharisees because they were careful about things important to them but casual about things important to God. To those more religious than righteous, Jesus said, “These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23 NKJV. Do all that you can every time you can.

Important matters require closure. Jesus provides a great example. Imagine the joy in Jesus’ heart as he surveyed His life, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4 NKJV. There is a satisfaction of soul that accompanies obedience. It is important to know, “the things (God) has given you to do,” and to do them. Even on the cross, in His pain and suffering Jesus looked to His Father and confidently declared, “It is finished.” John 19:30 NKJV. Unfinished business is neither wise nor profitable. We are all prone to ignore the awkward or avoid the unpleasant situations that would be difficult, painful, or personally costly. Doing so leaves a life more complicated than is healthy.

In light of the coming resurrection and judgment, Paul wrote, “I always strive to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men.” Acts 24:16 NKJV. Embracing your future is difficult with an unreconciled past with either God or man. Leave no unfinished business with either. Jesus told a touching story about a loving father and his two very different sons. Read Luke 15:11-31 NKJV. After a lengthy time squandering his father’s generosity, the younger son realized vital relationships were improperly unfinished. “When he came to himself . . he said to himself . . I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, I have sinned.” There needed to be Godly repentance and restoration with the family – the younger son with both his father and brother, and the elder son with brother and father.  The Heavenly Father was reflected when forgiveness and restoration were offered freely to both.

This is the good news. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. Allow nothing to settle in your heart or life that needs Godly closure with God or man. Is there a family relationship, broken friendship, discarded promise, or neglected obedience awaiting your initiative? Paul gave good counsel, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18 NKJV. But be advised; everything cannot be sorted out single-handedly, but the initiative is yours.

Today, I pray for you that your past will be clean and your conscience clear.

Christian Communications 103107

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Stuff Accumulates

June 7th, 2013

“Your attitudes . . must all be constantly changing for the better.” Ephesians 4:23 TLB.

Stuff that clutters your soul is not worth the cost of keeping it around.

My thoughts and comments today observe that “stuff accumulates.”

Last week, Gayle and I relinquished our storage unit. You know what that is, I assume. A storage unit is where you pay someone else to keep the stuff for which you have no more room. Stuff accumulates. When we examined what we had been storing, we realized that it would cost us less to replace the accumulated stuff, if and when ever needed, than to continue to pay someone to store it.

Some things there were once useful; a few things might be somewhat useful at a later time; some of it could be useful to someone else, but too much of it would not likely be needed again. Most of it ended up in the facility’s dumpster; a few things we brought back to sort or store; other things we gave away. If you own a storage facility, this is not criticism of you. You were clever enough to see a need and make a living. We paid you to keep our stuff that was not important enough to make room for at home.

In your personal life, stuff accumulates as well. And there’s a personal cost to you for storing away your collection of mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter that hinders more than helps. People  accumulate regrets, hurts, unprofitable relationships, habits, sins, bitterness, fears, grudges, unforgiveness, anger, disapproval, rejection, negativism, complaints, criticism – well, you get the idea. The cost is a heaviness of heart, a dullness of spirit, deep regrets, needless worry, or a weight on your very soul. The Apostle Paul made it clear, “Your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy, and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.” Ephesians 4:23-24 TLB. Constantly changing for the better; that’s a worthy, Godly objective.

Sort through the clutter regularly; don’t just store it away. Be rid of it. It’s sometimes dirty work, but it is worth it. I suggest three practical ways to change your attitudes and thoughts: to yourself, admit the need for cleansing and changing; to God, confess it; with others, correct it. I remember my friend, Campbell, saying, “There’s one certain way that sins leave you – by your sincere confession to God.” John explains how that works, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NKJV. Jesus is faithful to forgive sins and cleanse unrighteousness, but He can’t if you cling to it like it’s something precious rather than pernicious. Read Proverbs 28:13 NIV.

Confession is much more than mere admission of wrongdoing; God knows what occupies your attitudes and thoughts. What may be hidden from others is clearly seen and known by God. It is a waste of your time and God’s to ignore or deny your sin. Confession recognizes your wrong and renounces it before God and others. Don’t defend it; don’t explain it; don’t justify it, don’t minimize it; confess it. Confession means, “saying the same thing [about your sin] as God says.” Stuff that clutters your soul – your mind, will, and emotions – is not worth the cost of keeping it around.

My prayer for you today is: be quick to confess your wrong and eager to be rid of it.

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Love and Forgiveness

March 29th, 2013

“We have redemption through His blood, [and] the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 1:7 NKJV.

Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you are imprisoned by an inescapable past.

My thoughts and comments today are about “love and forgiveness.”

Who has not been wronged, whether slightly or severely? And who has not done wrong against God or man? Life is not livable without forgiveness and forgiving; the burden of your wrong, or the wrong of another, eventually becomes too great to bear apart from forgiveness. Without a selfless act of forgiveness, you become imprisoned by an inescapable past. See Mark 11:25 NIV/Colossians 3:13-15 NIV/ Matthew 6:14-15 NIV.

It is not forgiveness with which we struggle; it is love that is our challenge. Love demands more from you. Love keeps no score of wrongs . . bears all things . . endures all things . . love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. With love, sacrifice is less burdensome; inconvenience not worth mention. Forgiveness comes without measurement of wrong or deservedness. The one who chooses to forgive accepts the price and pain of the errors of another.

Good Friday is about immeasurable love. Jesus, who had done no wrong (See 2 Corinthians 5:21), took your sins, accepted your place before the righteousness of God, paid the awful price of your sin, and felt the pain for every sin and wrong you committed or will commit (Matthew 27:46). The worst of which every person is capable was embraced on a cross, the instrument of our Savior’s death.

His cross represents the worst of sins but also the greatest of loves. He forgave you there because of love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” John 3:16-17 NIV.

On that cross, your history and destiny were forever changed. “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us . . that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Read Ephesians 1:7-12 NKJV. No one has to remain as they have been.

It was a Good Friday indeed, because hope was born there for anyone who would believe. Read 1 John 1:9-10 NIV. Author Max Lucado wrote, “Jesus would rather go to Hell for you, than to go to Heaven without you.” What do you do with a God like that? You can’t just dismiss Him. Instead, you humbly bow before Him, accept His forgiveness, and live your life for Him.

“[Christ] presented Himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready . . We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” Romans 5:7-8 MSG. Imagine; God put His life on the line for you!

Recipients of such grace and love, why do we struggle to forgive? Here is the application. You cannot leave the wrongs of another unforgiven, when yours have been so freely and fully forgiven. The Bible says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God in Christ forgave you.” See Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV. Love is at its best when forgiving.

My prayer for you this day is that you know God’s immeasurable and wondrous love.

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A Soul Set Free

August 22nd, 2012

“Praise the Lord . . Who forgives all your sins.” Psalm 103:3 NIV

Forgiveness heals your history; grace empowers your destiny.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a soul set free.”

Unforgiven sin is a heavy burden on one’s soul, even for the strongest of men. King David learned that lesson the hard way, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Read Psalm 32:3-4 NLT. Clearly, there is not only a spiritual dimension to sin; there are physical, emotional, psychological, and relational consequences to sin as well. Sin produces guilt; guilt breeds shame; shame causes regret. It is overly simplistic, but true, to say that none of those are profitable or desirable.

It is futile to hide sin from God, for He sees and knows all. It is foolish to excuse sin or blame anyone else but yourself and self-destructive to hold onto your sin when God waits to forgive readily. The burden of sin can only be relieved by forgiveness. Forgiveness heals your history; grace empowers your destiny. “Praise the Lord, O my soul . . and forget not all His benefits – Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:1-5 NIV.

Listen to David’s joy when rid of the burden of his horrible sins, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty . . finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:2/5 NLT. I saw a bumper sticker that correctly read, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” There is an unspeakable joy in a soul set free. Read Psalm 124:7-8 NAS.

Forgiveness was made available to you at the Cross when Jesus, the sinless Savior, died for the sins of the world. See John 3:16-21 NKJV. Forgiveness does not erase what you’ve done; it does transform who you are and can change who you become. The only reason sin remains unforgiven in your life is that you allow it to remain unrepented and unconfessed. My dear friend, Campbell, often said, “The only way that sin leaves your life is through your mouth, in confession and repentance to God.” I am sure he was right. The Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” Read 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV.

Be clear about confession. Let’s start with what it is not. Confession is not telling God about your sin; he knew of your sin before you were willing to recognize it as such. Neither is it merely saying to God you are sorry; of course, you’re sorry. God gave you a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong that troubles your soul when ignored. You are sorry because sin is troublesome to the human spirit. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NKJV. Confession is not promising God you will do better, although you had best intend to do just that. Confession literally means, “to say along with.” You confess sin when you say the same thing about your sin that God says – that your sin is against His moral and righteous Law, your sin separates you from His fellowship and purpose, and your sin is destructive now and eternally. Read Psalm 51:1-12 NIV.

My prayer for you today is for you to know the joy of a sinless soul and liberated spirit.

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