Sunday, February 27, 2011
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A few posts back I told you about how I was re-baptized, and how the driving force behind wanting to do this was really a difference between proclaiming Jesus as my Lord and merely claiming Him as Savior. I think it's a vitally important distinction, and one we often overlook. There is a tendency to be all about being "saved," with much less emphasis on being transformed. But if we look at the Bible we find a unified message of salvation and sanctification. They are inseparable, and efforts to untie them reveal a misunderstanding of Jesus and what He came to do.
A person is not saved by making a simple "confession" of faith in Jesus when there is no change affected in the confessor. Real belief will produce real change. If there’s no change, there’s no belief. (See James 2:14-26)
So what evidences change? Does going to church? Being involved in Christian community? Volunteering? Tithing? Singing in the choir? Saying the right things? These things may give us some insight into the heart of another person, or they might not. Regardless, it’s not for us to judge. After all, we have no way of knowing someone’s natural state. An outwardly prickly person may have come a long way, and the seemingly kind may have made zero progress. But what we do need to do is to see evidence of change in our own lives. We have a desperate need to be honest with ourselves. And none of the above criteria are as revealing as simply looking at obedience.
Are you obeying God’s Word? Are you living your life in accordance with His law? You can flip through the Ten Commandments and read through Jesus’ teaching in the Gospels. Take a critical look at your life. Are you willing to suffer financial loss for the sake of honesty? Do you take your commitments seriously? Do you covet? Do you put God first? Are there idols in your life? (Read Counterfeit Gods if you are inclined to think there aren’t). Are you careful to observe boundaries to protect your marriage?
George MacDonald said, "Obedience is the key to every door." I've been reflecting on this quote for almost a month and I'm more and more inclined to agree. But I know for certain that obedience is indeed the key to the door of faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship lays this out so well -- belief and obedience are like two points on a circle, and they reinforce each other. The more you believe the more you are able to obey, but interestingly, the more you obey the more you are able to believe. Obeying isn't just the right thing to do, it strengthens your faith.
So may we take the call to obey God's Word seriously, may we examine our lives for evidence that the Holy Spirit is working to sanctify us, and may we continue to make Jesus Lord over all!
As the apostle John said, "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." 1 John 2:3 (NIV). With that in mind, may we all know Him better.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
- In the Christian walk, God requires us to answer two primary questions: (1) How much do you love me? and (2) How much do you trust me? (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith for the future is based on God's grace in the past. (Erwin Lutzer) This means we need to be reflective and intentional enough to acknowledge and remember God's gracious provision.
- Faith never judges God by circumstances. (Erwin Lutzer). In my opinion, there's a growing problem among Christians that overemphasizes circumstances, which is contrary to the message of the Bible. Faith should never be determined by circumstances, nor should ethics.
- Sufficient grace comes with sufficient faith. (Erwin Lutzer). 2 Corinthians 12:9
- All truth is narrow; God's grace is broad. (Ray Pritchard)
- Pray for tenacious, winsome courage. (Ray Pritchard)
- Love people where you find them, just like Jesus did. (Ray Pritchard)
- Everything we do is tainted, yet twenty-four hours a day Jesus provides the righteousness God demands. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Abraham was, of course, a man of great faith. He believed God in three specific areas: (1) he believed in the future and not just the present, trusting God's guidance without demanding to know the plan or destination; (2) he believed in the invisible not just the visible; and (3) He believed in promises, not explanations. (Erwin Lutzer)
- Faith always leads to ultimate victory, but we don't necessarily see it now. (Erwin Lutzer)
Sunday, August 22, 2010
When I was about five or six years old, I prayed with my mom to accept Jesus as my Savior. Oh the sweet relief I felt to know that I would go to heaven when I died. My faith was simple and pure, and I am thankful that God heard my prayer. Yet I did precious little to grow my faith, praying now and then, reading a devotional here and there, and on rare occasions cracking open His Word. Far from being a devoted follower of Christ, I marched through the next couple decades, with eternal security in hand, living life my own way.