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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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Choose Joy

December 21st, 2017

Joy is both a gift and a choice. Choose joy.

“You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you to,

“Choose Joy.”

“Merry Christmas!” Such is the all too familiar greeting, but “merry,” seems an underwhelming emotion when referring to the Eternal God coming into our world. “Joyous Christmas,” seems more appropriate to the Advent season. Open your heart and home to be overwhelmed this Advent season by a sublime joy that Peter described this way, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

Inexpressible and glorious joy is the proper response to the Savior. The experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and unequaled sacrifice deserve no less. As the angel announced to the shepherds that first Christmas, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS. The good news is the same now as then, as is the promise.

However, Heaven’s joy did not originate on that first Christmas. The Incarnation simply dramatized the eternal purpose of the Father for all His creation to know inexpressible, glorious joy. Creation is described as the time when, “the morning stars sang together and all the Angels shouted for joy.” Job 38:7 NIV. That same eternal joy will fill your heart as you stand before God, “Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy.” Read Jude 24-25 NKJV. Joyfully celebrating Christmas provides your opportunity to experience His inexpressible and glorious joy every day.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Great joy is yours but never automatic. Joy is a gift God gives; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy; mature joy until the emotion becomes a disposition abounding from spiritual resources. Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me . . My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV. You have His joy, completely.

Choose joy. Share the joy. If you are silent or unclear about your joy at Christmas, why would, or should, the world be drawn at other times to the truth you tell. Consider this. Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share its joy with others. But a joy-filled message is not credible when coming from a joyless messenger. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you can’t keep something that you won’t share, and others will not believe something they do not see. When you give joy, you gain joy. That states a spiritual principle that also applies to inexpressible and glorious joy, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV.

Share the joy of Christmas every day, to every person, and in every imaginable way. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Invite, include, involve, converse, welcome, laugh, love, express life, and always be real. Celebrate joyously and without apology. Incarnate the joy of His incarnation, and the timeless message an unbelieving world cannot resist. The message of Christmas remains forever unchanged, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NKJV. Christmas offers every reason and opportunity to choose joy.

Today, I pray for you to discover the inexpressible, enduring joy found only in the Savior.

Christian Communications 2017

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Time and Eternity

July 17th, 2015

“They were longing for a better country – a heavenly one.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV.

Each birthday I celebrate creates anticipation rather than melancholy.

My thoughts and comments today are about “time and eternity.”

Live wisely each day that you are given. “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength, they are eighty years . . so teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:10/12. One’s years are limited and the number unknown. As I approach another birthday tomorrow, I am aware there are more years behind than remain. That reality creates anticipation in my heart rather than melancholy. I fully intend to enjoy life as long as I can, to savor its joys and extend its years. I choose to be numbered among those described as, “longing for a better country – a Heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:16 NIV.

The longing in the heart is not for just more of the same. The human spirit recognizes that man was made for much more than these limited years. Solomon declared it simply; “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV. You and I were created with an inner, insatiable desire for life – life abundant now and eternal forever, and for an eternal place to enjoy it. Heaven is just as real as the world that you now know and enjoy. Heaven is what makes death bearable, and Jesus’ sacrificial death essential.

To those for whom life has not seemed kind, God has promised every Christ-follower a place so much better. “And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold I make all things new.’” Revelation 21:4-5.

To those for whom life is good right now, eternal life will be exquisite. Paul was seldom without words except when he wrote of Heaven, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him, but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NIV.

A personal faith in Jesus prepares you for the place He has prepared for you. As a pastor, I have said too many final farewells to family and friends. Each tearful farewell is only temporary and has only made Heaven nearer and dearer. Jesus assured His worried disciples and us, “If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” Read John 14:1-4 NIV. The good news is this: when you invite and keep Christ in your heart as Savior, Heaven is where you go when you die. Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 NIV/1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 NLT. I do not want to imagine Heaven without you there.

Today, I pray for you to recognize that your longing for life is really about Heaven.

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Think Outside the Box

January 30th, 2015

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV.

Judging others assumes you are correct in your assumptions.

My thoughts and comments today suggest that you “think outside the box.”

EDL Box glassMaybe you have heard the phrase, “Think outside the box.” The phrase comes from our common tendency to design “boxes” – intentionally or unintentionally – into which we assign ourselves or other people. Literally, a box imposes certain limits; it may feel a safe place temporarily but is always a confining space. A “box” contains a person to only what they have been or have been assumed to be. We sometimes even do that to ourselves. Once believed, even a mistaken opinion is difficult to change or ignore. Do not allow others’ opinions to confine you in any kind of “box,” accepting the irrational inevitability of the limits their opinions impose. You are a new creature in Christ.

Even Jesus was misjudged. “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Read Matthew 13:54-58 NIV. He was that, but so much more. The Apostle Paul was often misunderstood by those he sought to serve. “For some say, ‘[Paul’s] letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” 2 Corinthians 10:10 NIV. Paul would not be put into a “box” of others’ opinions. Does your initial opinion of people or situations too quickly become a judgment about them and expectation of them? Judging presumes you know what and why another has acted as they did, and that you are correct in your assumptions.

“Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?” 2 Corinthians 10:7. Appearances are more often misleading than accurate. People, as well as circumstances, are rarely as they first appear. An inaccurate impression possesses the power to either enhance or diminish your initial assumption. An assumption separated from reliable facts results in a faulty interpretation. By outward appearances alone, you will incorrectly evaluate circumstances as either beneficial or detrimental, and react accordingly. Reactions are the fruit of faulty estimations; responses are the product of thoughtful decisions. You cannot live wisely until you learn to distinguish between natural reactions and spiritual responses. Such an obstinate, natural tendency requires a redemptive, spiritual solution.

As always, you can find practical counsel and wisdom in God’s Word. “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV. Avoid a worldly point of view – about yourself and about others. Paul is plainly saying, “Think outside the box.”

Rest your history in God’s redeeming love. Release others’ future into the caring, healing hands of a Savior. Outside the box of your habits, negative feelings, misconceptions, assumptions, labels by others, past hurts and failures, old mistakes, painful memories, bad choices, and sins forgiven but not forgotten, you can be “a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

Think of yourself as the new creation in Christ that you are. You are not what you were; you can be more than you are. Of this truth, I am grateful, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV. Therefore, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” Read Proverbs 4:20-23.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are free to become all that God believes you to be.

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Lies, Exaggerations, and Truth

April 14th, 2014

He is Risen pix

 

“Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV.

If you will not believe God’s Word and it turns out to be true, you will have lost everything.

My thoughts and comments today are about “lies, exaggerations, and truth.”

You have heard it said, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The world is a confusing mix of lies, exaggerations, and truth. Lies are a deliberate attempt to deceive. Exaggerations are a bit of truth stretched to incredulity. Something is either all true or it is not truth at all. Easter asks you to believe the unbelievable because the literal, bodily Resurrection of Jesus is the incontrovertible proof.

People stand stunned and grieving at gravesides, hoping there is something more beyond that false finality, but fearful to believe. In the disquiet of their soul a nagging question lingers, “What if this is true?” Let’s be practical, “If you believe God’s Word and it turns out to be untrue, you have lost nothing; if you will not believe God’s Word and it turns out to be true, you will have lost everything!”

Be very clear. God never made promises that were not true. The Apostle Paul reasoned, “True, some . . were unfaithful; but just because they broke their promises, does that mean that God will break His promises? Of course not! Though everyone else in the world is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say, ‘He will be proven right in what He says; He will win His case in court.’” Romans 3:3-4 NLT.

Easter is about an empty cross, an empty tomb, and empty grave clothes – but not an empty promise. The Resurrection of Jesus assures you God’s promises are real. The Apostle Peter courageously preached, “God raised Jesus from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” Acts 2:25. Neither the cross, the tomb, nor the grave clothes could hold Jesus; they are each empty as proof of God’s power for your life.

(1)The empty cross promises forgiven sin. The Bible says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. Jesus embraced the cross so you could be forgiven of sin. “Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2-3.

(2)The empty tomb promises eternal life. When the Christ-followers believed the Resurrection, they chose to die rather than deny truth. Paul reasoned, “If only in this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead . .” See 1 Corinthians 15:16-20 NIV. If faith in Christ does not include the Resurrection – His and yours – faith is futile.

(3)The empty grave clothes promise a living Savior. See Luke 24:9-12 NKJV. As the angels said to the bewildered women that first Easter dawn, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? Jesus is not here; He is risen!” Luke 24:5-6 NKJV. Christ is risen indeed.

My prayer for you today is that you know the hope of Resurrection is true – no lie, no exaggeration.

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