Friday, January 25, 2013

Is My Salvation Real?

Is My Salvation Real?
1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Many New Testament writers were concerned about the matter of true salvation and the Apostle John wrote his first letter dedicated to the subject of eternal life. John gives us a series of tests to determine whether our salvation is real. If we pass the tests, we’ll know where we stand and whether or not true conversion has taken place.  We are not to rely totally on an experience from our past, but we are to examine ourselves today, to see whether or not we are in the faith.
A relationship with God is necessary for salvation. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him (I John 5:1). Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. The Apostle Paul described his relationship with Christ in this way:  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
If you have not experienced communion with God and Christ, or sensed Their presence in prayer and the joy in knowing the truth of the Word of God, then you have not been truly Born Again by the Spirit of God. The Christian life is rich and he who tastes the abundant life will know the “God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3); the “God of all grace” (I Peter 5:10); and the “God who supplies all [our] needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
The person who is saved is conscious of sin in their life.  Are you willing to confess and forsake any sin in your life as you are made aware of that sin? If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (I John 1:8).  Do you at times not understand your own actions and do the very thing that you hate? Then you can feel right at home with the Apostle Paul in his example he left us in Romans 7:14-25. Do you realize that you can choose not to sin and when you do fail, you can go to Christ the Devine Advocate? Can you agree with Paul in saying, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? If so, you are obviously a Christian and since salvation is secure, you need to enjoy your security in being fully assured.
A true Christian obeys God’s Word.  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments (I John 2:3).  If you want to know if you are a Christians, ask yourself whether you obey God’s commandments given in Scripture. If your desire is to obey God’s Word from a heart that is filled with gratitude for all He has done for you, and this desire is producing in you an evident example of obedience, then you have passed an important test that indicates the presence of saving faith.
A person that is saved rejects the world.  Satan, for now, is the god of this world.  A system the evil one has designed that embraces false religion, crime, immorality, materialism, and all things equivalent to it. We are not to love the world or the things that are in the world for if we do, the love of the Father is not in us. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (I John 2:15,16). To reject the world does not come naturally, and man, because of his sinful nature, has a tendency to love darkness rather than light and to hide his evil intentions and deeds of the flesh (John 3:19-20).  If you reject the world and its evil desires, that is a sure indication of new life in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).
True believers love other Christians. Here’s another test. Are you characterized by a loving spirit towards other believers and are known for fulfilling the needs of others? If you claim to be a Christian, and yet have no love for those in the church, and never meet the needs of one person, you’re in darkness in spite of your claim to be in the light.  Love is a test of newness of life and is evidence that you have passed from darkness into light because you love the brethren. 1 John 3:14-15 says:  We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Our love is not perfect, but it will be there for all to see–––when we know Christ.
Christians experience answered prayer. Having a skimpy prayer life will lead you to believe that God does not answer prayer and you will struggle with assurance of your salvation. This is a great tragedy!  Do you have a pattern of answered prayer? Have you seen God move in clear and precise ways?  Have you asked the Lord to help you to know Him better and then experienced an intimacy with Him greater than ever before? These are indications that you truly do belong to Christ.
Thought: We need to regularly, “Examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? We are to practice self-examination to prove our genuineness in saving faith–––evidence that Christ dwells within. Psalm 139:23,24 says, Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Ask God to show you your sin continuously and then be willing to turn from your sin and seek His forgiveness. Love not the world or the things of this world but love other believers fulfilling  their needs. Pray with fervency having a passion for God to answer your prayers. Desire a communion with the eternal God and long to know His precious Word.
If these few tests are true in your life, they prove you are a Christian, Justified by His death, burial and resurrected life. Romans 3:24 ~ Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: If these things are not true in your life, Scripture teaches: 2 Corinthians 6:2b (...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lying and Deception

The Consequences of Lying and Deception
Genesis 27 
The deception begins

And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I.  And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.  And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it. And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee (Genesis 27:1-8).

What does deception and lying teach us? Do we think just because Jacob received his father’s blessing he wouldn’t suffer the consequences of his deception and lies that he told? 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." -  Sir Walter Scott

Jacob’s deception and lying caused sever consequences in his life, something he would live with until his death. After Jacob deceived his father, he fled from the presence of Esau, his brother, in fear of his life for Esau wanted Jacob dead–––a consequence of lying and deception. Rebekah accepted responsibility for her wrong actions regarding Esau and Isaac sent Jacob away to Laban, her brother, in the land of Haran. Jacob would suffer another consequence from his deception, he would never see his mother again before her death.

When Jacob arrived in Haran he asked some shepherds if they knew a man called Laban, the son of Nahor? They said they knew him and then they pointed out Rachel, his daughter, coming to the well where shepherds and shepherdess watered their flocks. Jacob went to where the stone covered the well and rolled it away so that Rachel could water her sheep. Jacob kissed Rachel and wept for joy telling her that he was related to her father. Rachel ran home to tell her father about Jacob. (I’m not sure, but I think if I were Jacob, I would have told her who I was first before kissing her so as not to alarm her and she feel a need to strike a blow to my head). After hearing about his sister’s son, Laban ran to meet Jacob embracing him and kissing him and bringing him to his house. 

Laban had two daughters; the name of the older daughter was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were called tender or weak which probably means that they were a pale color rather than the dark sparkling eyes most common to their race. The pale colored eyes were most likely viewed as a blemish and therefore undesirable. Jacob’s heart was definitely towards Rachel and he was willing to work for seven years to provide a dowry to make her his wife. Unfortunately, Jacob, the deceiver, was about to be deceived himself. Local marriage customs of the land required that the older daughter be married first and then the younger daughter which Laban knew and then conspired to deceive Jacob. Fourteen years Jacob worked for Laban and ended up with two wives that would become jealous in childbearing competition causing tremendous sorrow. Rachel was barren and Leah, her sister, had already given birth to four sons. According to ancient Near Eastern culture, a woman that was barren was no better than a dead wife and became a severe embarrassment to her husband. The competition continued between the two sisters/wives and is demonstrated in the using of their handmaids as surrogate mothers, and the on going battle for their husband’s favor and attention.

Jacob’s life was filled with conflict due to his great deception. God had promised Rebekah that Jacob would have received the birthright, (Genesis 25:23) he didn’t have to scheme with his mother to commit this intolerable deception. Years later, Jacob would be deceived by his own sons when they made plans to murder their brother Joseph. They tried to cover-up the fruit of  their hate and envy by selling him to merchants passing by and telling their father that Joseph was dead, killed by a wild animal. Sorrow and grief accompanied Jacob but God, in His divine plan, made Joseph second in command, a ruler, in Egypt. During this time, there was a great famine in the land of Israel, and Jacob’s sons journeyed to Egypt to buy food. They were shocked and even afraid when they saw Joseph, their brother, whom they had sold into slavery, alive and in charge of the distribution of food. The sons of Jacob would have to tell their father that Joseph was alive and confess the crime committed against him so many years ago. What unnecessary grief they caused their father in their lying scheme and what unnecessary grief and sorrow we cause our Father when we pursue to deceive.

Thought: Can you see the web of deceit that Jacob first began to weave and the consequences of lying that played out in his life? Do we think that we are any different than Jacob in our plan to deceive or that we can get away with lying? Galatians 6:7 ~ Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Proverbs 12:22 ~ Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. Ephesians 4:25 ~ Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. God’s work in this world is based on truth and we as believers are not fit instruments for the Lord to use–––if we are not truthful. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Tongue

Taming the Tongue
James 3:5-12

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.  For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:  But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude (likeness) of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.  Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

We as Christians, must control our tongues because of its potential to condemn and its power to dominate. The tongue is very dangerous. It can rule a person and command their behavior. Have you ever been around someone that was lovely to look upon but, when they opened their mouth to speak, the poison that came out caused them to appear ugly even appalling? What does our speech look like to God? Are we portraying in words what is down in our hearts?  If we don't control it, it can control everything about us. The tongue has tremendous power to control.  It's like a bit that by pressing against the tongue controls the whole body of the horse.  It's like a rudder that guided by the helmsman turns the entire great ship.  The tongue is a small member, it boasts great things. The tongue has every reason to boast great things because it can accomplish such far reaching effects though it is so very small. 

 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth (James 3:2-4.)

Only an absolutely sinless person will never offend with his tongue and Jesus was the only one able to triumph in that area.  A mature believer, if he walks in Christ's likeness as much as is humanly possible, will control his tongue.  But we who are in this human flesh will all sin with our tongue for the tongue has tremendous power to control, condemn and abuse.  James says, that the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. It can set a whole forest ablaze by only one small flame. Fire is so fascinating.  You can take one small flame and set a whole city burning to the ground.  Fire has an amazing capacity to mushroom.  If you have a cup of water and you pour it out, it won't become a stream or a flood.  It can't.  But if you have a match, you can light a forest on fire or burn down an entire city because fire has a way of multiplying.  The tongue is not like water, the tongue is a fire!  Proverbs 15:28 says, "The mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things."  The mouth of the wicked, it pours out fire or evil things. In Proverbs 16:27 it says, “An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.” Everything his fiery mouth touches is set on fire and the fire spreads.  Proverbs 26:20 says, "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” The picture here is that the tale-bearer or the one who passes on gossip or a lie is like the wood that fuels the fire.  Proverbs 26:21 says, "As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."  The word "kindle" means to ignite or set on fire. Gossip, slander and contention is a fire that devastates and destroys.
In Psalm 52:2, the tongue devises mischief like a sharp razor. That's an intriguing picture. The tongue is like a razor and a razor can cut deep. In the same Psalm verses 3 and 4 it says, "Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah. Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue. God will judge those whose tongues do damage.  Job 19:2, Job says, "How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?” The devastating power of a tongue to start a rumor, to spread a malignant lie so evil in its intent, is a wildfire that cannot be stopped and a razor that cuts so deeply.
Thoughtful Prayer: Lord, help us to control our tongue. May we be those who out of the good treasure of our heart bring forth good things, sweet fountains and sweet water.  May it be that every time we open our mouth, we minister grace to the hearers. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4 :29 said, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."  May others know us not only by what we do, but by what we say.  May we be characterized by holy speech and thereby known to be the children of the living God. Thank You, Lord, for enabling us to speak of good and pure things because You have given us a new heart and with it a new tongue, that we may bless Your holy name.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Belt of Truth

The Belt of Truth  vs. The Fiery Darts of Satan
Ephesians 6:10-14a
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.   Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.

Ouch! Sometimes Satan’s darts hurt and sting and the result of living in this world where Satan rules, can be difficult and painful. How do we deal with the attacks of Satan? How do we defeat the shrewd and cunning schemes of the Devil? That’s a tall order! First, we need to concentrate on what we are doing and not focus on what Satan is doing around us. And then secondly, we need to–––stand! To stand means: to be prepared, be in (a state of) readiness, be ready for action, be on full alert, withstand, endure, resist, and stand up to.Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14.)

How do we ready ourselves for the fiery darts that Satan will no doubt shoot at us and how will we survive his attacks? Let’s look at the first piece of armor a believer must have on when Satan and his hosts arrive. Truth is the first piece of armor you must put on if you’re going to stand against the wiles of the Devil. If Satan attacks, it is necessary first of all, to have the belt of truth on. Satan is going to come with his wiles, his cunning craftiness and winds of doctrine. The word doctrine is teaching. Satan will come and with certain teachings which are cunningly deceiving, teach doctrines of demons, false truths. 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. The only way you can resist the falsehoods and the lies of the Devil is to have the truth. That is why it is so important for us to learn and know the truth of the Word of God. A Christian who isn't ready for battle is going to be a Christian who is victimized.

God’s Word tells us that Satan is a liar and there is no truth in Him and that He lies to the Christian and wants him to doubt God in His power, His Word and even in His saving grace.  Satan wants to attack God’s character and credibility and undermine the truths of His Word, His promises and His love. Satan wants to make it hard to live the Christian life through persecution or peer pressure. He makes the Christian’s life difficult by making it appear easy, acceptable, respectable, and by claiming, “Everybody is a Christian, everybody is getting born again. Christianity is kind of the cool thing and it's alright. You know, it's so easy now, there's no price to pay.” Jesus said to his disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24.) Christ is demanding total commitment from His disciples and complete surrender even–––physical death. If they are true believers in Christ, they are to proclaim to others this same message of commitment and surrender and then, follow Him. For those who come to Christ with self-renouncing faith, there will be true and eternal life.

Thought: We are to gird our loins with the Truth of the Word of God? John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”  Put on the Word of Truth, which is the truth of the gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Word.  It is not just the sense of having a Bible in our hands, it means having the truth ready and prepared in the loins of our mind supporting us, and holding us up. James 1:21 says, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” The engrafted Word of God protects our soul from the Enemy’s lies and deception. Satan operates in lies and deception; therefore, it is imperative that we know truth based solely on God’s Word. John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  This truth that Ephesians 6 is speaking about not only has the truth of God’s Word in general, but specifically it is speaking about the truth of the pure gospel. Satan knows that if we really get a handle on the truth of our salvation and the relationship that comes with it, his kingdom will suffer.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.