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Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

New Faith and a New Nature

October 11th, 2018

Your new faith did not erase your old nature.

“Given to us are exceedingly great and precious promises, that you may be partakers of the divine nature.” 2 Peter 1:4 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “new faith and a new nature.”

Salvation resolves the problem of your eternal destiny. Salvation does not solve all your problems in this life immediately. That is a process of grace. So, you are a Christ-follower now. Shouldn’t everyday life become easier? Do you ever wonder if you should be further along in your spiritual growth than you are? Should you be winning new battles instead of still fighting so many of the old ones?

Salvation reconciles your history and begins a wonderful new journey, but there is much more that God wants and needs to accomplish in you. God cares about your destiny. Remember when you finally realized that you could not save yourself by your good works? Paul wrote,  He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 NIV.

Yet it is alarmingly easy to still assume that now you can take it from here. The Bible calls those, dead works. You can no more live your Christian life on your best behavior now, than you could save yourself by your good behavior previously. You know what the problem is? Your new faith did not erase your old nature.

I envision Paul rejoicing as he wrote the words, Because of His great love for us, God, Who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. Read Ephesians 2:1-5 NIV. You remain vulnerable to the relentless pull of desires incompatible with your confession and spiritual convictions.

And when that happens, feelings of guilt return and doubts cloud your confidence about salvation. You thought that battle was in the past, didn’t you? The Apostle Paul asked and answered the question our hearts ask, Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:23-24 NIV.  Here’s the good news! “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16 NAS. I suggest that you cannot consistently and successfully walk in the power of the Holy Spirit until you request, receive, and realize that you have been filled with the Spirit.

By His Spirit, God Himself dwells within you to deliver you from your old nature, much the same as He redeemed you from your sins by Jesus Christ. See Galatians 2:20 NIV. You will be better, do better, and live better when you rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit. I have heard this wonderful progression of spiritual life and growth explained this way.

At salvation, you were saved from the penalty of sin. In the ongoing process of sanctification, you are being saved from the power of sin. And in eternity you will be saved from the presence of sin. The old nature will then be eradicated forever; never again will you contend with its inclination toward sin.

To accomplish this, there is both an indwelling and an infilling of the Spirit. The indwelling is constant and occurs when the Spirit baptizes you into the Body of Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 12:13 NKJV. The infilling occurs at your invitation – anywhere, anytime, every time – as Jesus baptizes you with His Spirit. The Bible says, 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is,18 be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:17-18 NKJV. The Greek word in that verse that is translated, “filled,” describes the influence of something rather than the quantity of something.

Consider this. A sail boat moves under the influence and direction of the wind when its sails become filled with the wind. Similarly, “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us . .“ Galatians 5:22 NLT. Live full of the Spirit; the Spirit then gives you the power you lack to forgive, be patient in trials, be loving when mistreated, trust and obey when you don’t understand, break habits, and live as your heart for God desires.

As a child of God, the infilling of the Spirit does not give you more of the Spirit than already abides in you. Yielding more of yourself to live within His authority releases the Holy Spirit’s fullness and influence. See Galatians 5:24-25 NIV. Live every day, in and by the power and influence of the Spirit of God.

Today I pray for you to rely every moment on the power of God’s Spirit.

Christian Communications 2018

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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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Clarity and Ambiguity

November 10th, 2017

Purity is the spiritual fruit of clarity.

 “Then we will see everything with perfect clarity.”  1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT.

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“Clarity and Ambiguity.”

We live in a world that lacks moral and spiritual clarity. Presently, our country is reeling from the senseless, murderous tragedy of lives taken on this most recent Sunday morning in a Church not far from where I write these thoughts. In vain, our hearts try to understand what our minds cannot explain. Where clarity lacks, confusion fills the void. Opinions pose as facts, but sometimes they are merely opinions. Inevitably, we find some supposed facts to be in dispute. Opinions are as diverse as the people that hold them. Truth is never ambiguous and not lessened by either those who proclaim or disclaim it.

The world longs for clarity yet there is not much that is perfectly clear. Ambiguity seems the norm. Spiritual ambiguity. Moral ambiguity. Political ambiguity. Ambiguity seems to have become the norm. Where there is no clarity there is no truth. When and where you discover truth, you will find clarity. Absolute truth is found in God’s Word and character. Clarity comes from His truth.

The Apostle Paul addressed his problem and ours. We lack clarity. “Now we see things imperfectly as [looking] in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now.” 1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT. Our knowledge is finite; His is infinite. Our comprehension is flawed; His is perfect. Our understanding is partial; His is complete. “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” Romans 11:33 NIV. Isn’t it foolish, or even arrogant, to assume your experience to be unique or your knowledge to be complete?

The more time you invest in God’s Word, and the more you welcome the Holy Spirit to direct your life, and the more you weave God’s Truth into your daily life, the clearer you will become about direction, relationships, values, integrity, purpose, and destiny. Be clear about your salvation; you are forever sealed by the blood of Jesus. Be clear about your victory in Christ; in Him, you are more than a conqueror. Be clear about your purpose; you are here to advance His Kingdom. Be clear about your identity; you are who God says you are. Be clear about eternal life; Jesus prepared a place with Him for all eternity. All other opinions to the contrary are superfluous.

I have found these words to be clarifying and a promise of what is ahead for us, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Prov 4:18 NIV. “When He shall come, we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” Here is God’s goal for you, and should be yours as well. “Until we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:13 NKJV. Clarity about Who God is, what His Word says, and who you are in Christ produces purity of heart and life. Purity is the spiritual fruit of clarity. “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Read 1 John 3:2-3 NIV“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Read 1 John 3:2-3 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to be clear about your destiny and confident in His promises.

Christian Communications 2017

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A Sacrificial Life

May 26th, 2017

Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing one’s life is noble

“If you give up your life for Me, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 CEV

My thoughts and comments today are about,

“A Sacrificial Life.”

This weekend our country will observe Memorial Day, remembering and honoring the men and women, and their families, who have served our nation and the lives sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. I live in a military city with multiple military bases and hospitals. A significant number of the families of our community are either veterans or active duty military. When I meet veterans or see the faces of young soldiers serving bravely in far-flung reaches of our troubled world, I am humbled by the courage of the men and women who pledge their lives for the safety and sake of others.

They do not regard life as expendable or to be cheaply sacrificed. In contrast, more than most, they clearly see the incalculable value of life and yet are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for others. Only the person who would willingly sacrifice their own life has truly realized how precious life really is. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 NIV.

A few months ago, I received treasured, family heirlooms from my cousin – faded news clippings and the Purple Heart my uncle received while serving with the United States Marine Corps in WW II. Like so many young men, my Uncle Ralph was wounded in battle in the Mariana Islands, and after months of recovery was then a casualty in the assault of an enemy island, and was ultimately listed as, “missing in action.” He was my Dad’s older brother. For his sacrifice, he was revered in the Randolph family and his loss impacted my Dad, grandparents, and my uncle and aunt for their lifetimes. I only knew him through his picture as a Marine, displayed in a place of honor in my grandparents’ home.

If men and women will sacrifice their lives for freedom, love of country, and the safety of their families, should we who are called by His Name and redeemed by His sacrifice not give our lives in His service and the advance of His Kingdom? Squandering life is wasteful. Sacrificing life for God and others is noble. “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV.

Jesus’ call to discipleship remains the same today, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” Luke 9:23-25 NIV. Those last words pose a haunting question for every soul. The reward of your sacrifice in His Name by far exceeds the cost. Jesus was clear and His promise certain, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:29-30 NIV.

Jesus issued a monumental challenge that still resonates within hearts where He dwells. Sacrifice means living for something, and Someone, greater than yourself. In Christ’ name, we are all asked to lay down our lives in service to others. This weekend, as you recall the price others paid for your freedom, remember the price the Savior paid for your salvation.

Today, I pray for you to value your life as a gift to be given back to God and others.

Christian Communications 2017

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Crowned with Thorns

April 13th, 2017

A crown of thorns testifies to His suffering and your salvation

“Twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head.” Matthew 27:29 NAS

My thoughts and comments today are about, crowned with thorns.”

Good Friday is a day unlike any other before or since. On this day, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Sovereign of Heaven’s Kingdom, died for the sins of all the world. On His head was a crown, but not one you would suppose the Son of God should have worn. He wore a crown of cruel thorns, not a gold, bejeweled crown a Sovereign would wear. Heaven’s royalty was subjected to earth’s worst cruelty. Those thorns were twisted together by the hands of mocking soldiers who saw nothing more than a common criminal who would die for his crimes. To them He was no more than another day’s work in a troublesome province of Rome’s conquest.

Some years ago, while in England with my friend, Andrew took me to tour the Tower of London where the spectacular, British Crown Jewels are kept. The priceless Crown Jewels are displayed in a collection of such incomparable beauty and incalculable value, being worn only by the monarchs and royal families of Great Britain across centuries. In cruel contrast, the crown Jesus wore was common not priceless, of pain not beauty, imposed with rejection and ridicule not recognition or honor.

Anyone familiar with this part of Texas knows about mesquite thorns, an inch or more long, hard as a nail, and sharp as a needle. They can puncture a tire or shoe, and never break. The thorns of Palestine were much like that. And that cruel crown was painfully forced deep into Jesus’ scalp where the nerves and blood vessels are closest to the skin, resulting in immediate and immense pain and profuse bleeding. It was our sins not His that pressed them into His brow.

From where did those thorns come? Thorns came from the original sin in the Garden of Eden. To Adam and Eve, God said, “The ground is cursed for your sake . . thorns it shall bring forth for you.” Genesis 3:17-18. Appropriately, His crown of thorns represented the consequence of your sins and mine. Isaiah wrote, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him . . and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Read Isaiah 53:3-6 NKJV.

But Jesus wore that crown of shame and pain that would have been yours, and mine. In the great exchange of redemption, Jesus wore your crown that spoke of sin and judgment, to give you His crown, the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:8 NKJV. But Easter – His resurrection – promises a greater day will yet dawn when God shall have “crowned (our Lord) with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5 NIV.

His crown of thorns that spoke of our sin has been exchanged for a crown of glory that testifies of our salvation. “We see Jesus . . now crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9 NIV. Read Psalm 21:3-6 NLT. No wonder we call this Friday good!

Today, I pray for you to reflect on the awful, awesome price Jesus paid for your salvation.

Christian Communications 2017-4210

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