Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What does it mean to Love/Please God?

This could probably also be called, How do we know we are saved?Perhaps we will address both by the time this message is complete.  This post may seem a little lengthy but it is not a subject to be taken lightly.
        John 14 alone is loaded with answers to these questions about loving God.
In John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me".
In John 14:12 Jesus says, "Truly, truly I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father".
In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love, you will keep my commandments".
In Vs. 21 He goes on to say, "Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him".
In Vs. 22-24 Judas (not Iscariot) asks Jesus, "Lord, How is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?  Jesus answered him, If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words".
In John 14:31 Jesus says: "I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father".
     I will not try to quote it all hear because it needs to be read in it's entirety but John 15 makes it pretty clear that if you are a genuine Christian and you are abiding in Jesus you (the branch) will bear fruit that will bear witness to your relationship/connection to Jesus (the vine).  Jesus makes the point in this chapter that if we truly are walking in God's love that we will "lay down our lives for each other" as Christ lay down his life for us, his "friends". In John 15:16 Jesus states to the disciples that "you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide".  Jesus goes on in verses18-25 to clarify that the world will hate those who follow Jesus because they hate Jesus.  He states that we are not of this world if we are followers of Christ because He chose us out of this world and we should expect persecution.  So persecution is a fruit of being a follower of Christ among other things.  If everything is hunky dory, you should probably look at just how passionately you are following and obeying him.
         In Mark 8:34-38 Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's sake will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
       Here is a truth that many do not think of as often as they should.  John 7:21-23 states, "Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day, many will say to me Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?  And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness".
     James 1:27 states, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Read Matthew 25:31-46.  To sum up, it indicates that those who truly have a heart for God will look out for those in need.  Whether thirsty, hungry, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison they are to be looked after by us, the Christian, the child of God, the follower of Jesus.  That in doing these things we are showing evidence of walking in his love and obeying, under his Lordship.  It indicates that those who do not include these actions as a part of their lives had better question where they stand with God because they will likely find themselves in HELL!  THESE ARE THE WORDS OF JESUS!
I know, I had never really realized this before.
          Read Matthew 7:13-23.  Jesus makes it plain, as he does in many places in the Gospels that small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to eternal life and few will find it.  That there are many that believe they are going to heaven because of their devout religious commitment, but have no relationship with Jesus.  They have no idea what the bible says really pleases God.  They have simply empty works fueled by a selfish motivation.
         1 John 2:15 warns: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes, and the pride of possessions, is not from the Father but is from the world.
         Revelation 3:15-17 shows God saying: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.  For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
        I am concerned by the prosperity message as it applies to material things because it is so easy for it to lead to a dangerous level of comfort and lack of a feeling of a need for God.  It can lead to a deceptive idea that "because I am successful and have prospered materialistically I must be pleasing God!  Or it can lead to the idea that because I have not attained riches, I must not be pleasing God.  Jesus gave everything up and made himself nothing.  He required that we give everything up and follow him.  Paul considered all things rubbish in comparison to knowing and serving Jesus!  Doesn't quite line up does it?

So what does all this mean?  Is our Salvation based on what we do?  NOT AT ALL!  

      Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    Phillipians 1:27-28 states: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. And not frightened in anything by your opponents.  This is a clear sign to them of their destruction,but of your salvation, and that from God.
     Phillipians 2:14 says, "Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
    In John 8:31 Jesus says, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and truth will set you free".  As I strive to live out God's love in my life for him and others, I ask God to help me fall more and more in love with Him and the people He created and less in love with me.  When you do something out of a selfless love, you do it out of a desire to help and please others and God, not out of obligation.
 To lay down your life for a friend (John 15:12-15) does not necessarily mean to die, rather to put that friends needs and desires before your own. To die to ourselves daily.  Jesus said that we are his friends if we do what he commands.  Jesus loved you so much that he gave his life for you.  Can we do anything less than to give our lives for him.  This is in essence what pleases him most.

So to sum up, God's Word makes it plain that Salvation without Lordship is no Salvation at all.  You are saved by grace not works for certain.  However, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).  If  your Salvation is genuine, the fruit of God’s Lordship in your life will absolutely be evidence of that.  Your obedience will be pleasing to God and a proof of your love for him.
In fact, 1Corinthians 8: 3 says, "that if anyone loves God, He is known by God".  If he knows you, that's different than, "I never knew you"....right? Talk about assurance of salvation.  If you want to know that God knows you, live out your love for him through your obedience to him and the way you love others.  Die to yourself and let your light so shine that others would recognize the love of Jesus in you.

I have given a lot of scripture here because I want there to be no doubt that the ideas presented here are not from my mouth but many of them are from the mouth of Jesus himself.  All of them are form the Word of God.  If these "truths" have created any concern about your standing with God then I pray that you would turn to God and reconcile once and for all the Lordship in your life that He is due.  And I pray, once you have done that that the "truths" in this message will inspire and motivate you to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phillipians 2:12)

As always, Love in Christ,


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why Do we fight for our right to sin?

Why Do we fight for our right to sin?
It's ok if I mess up, God knows I'm not perfect...REALLY!
I have heard professing "Christians" use this argument to justify their right to continually do the things that they know the bible does not condone, whether it be use of profanity, telling obscene jokes, sexual immorality, etc.
Phillipians 3:12-16 says this:
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

James 1:27 states, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
So obviously, we will not be perfect until we are in our glorified bodies in heaven.  However, there is no scripture to support the idea that we should not be making every effort to abstain from all things that are not holy and pleasing to God. However, scripture says that is exactly what we should do. There is a big difference in making a mistake in sin and and continuing perpetually in a sin with no interest in changing the behavior.
Somehow, over many years, SATAN has managed to deceive America into justifying it's sin.  Homosexuality, fornication, adultery, obscenities of every kind; All things that God HATES according to his Word. And yet much of America, whom call themselves Christians have been sucked into the lie that these things are completely acceptable. Media has numbed the hearts and minds of countless Christians. It's as if the Ten Commandments along with many other rules for Christian living in God's Word were never written.
      Everything on television is designed to support immorality and feminism, and to tear down the role of the father as the leader of the household.   Watching television has become such a way of life, such a staple of most American households that we are not even aware of the fact that what we are watching on television is killing our relationship with Jesus. I know because I used to be one of them. Then God convicted me that, I was not honoring Phillipians 4:8 which states, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things”, by watching most of what is on TV and in movies. Also, that I was supporting the filth by watching shows containing that filth. I had made TV an idol along with its content because it was getting more of my attention and heart than God. So I stopped. I will not say I have mastered it, but I am keenly aware and striving to be careful of what and how much I watch.
       In Matthew 6: 22-23 Jesus states: “The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  So what constitutes darkness?   Movies or TV shows that glorify witchcraft, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, anything supernatural that is not supported by scripture should be questioned in regard to your relationship with God (Galatians 5:19-21).  That same scripture addresses most of the acts of the flesh to include sexual immorality, jealousy, rage, drunkenness, and the list goes on.  It goes on to state that the participants of these acts have no place in God’s kingdom.  There are many scriptures speaking against these sins. Why would we want to watch anything and allow it into our hearts that will cause us to be full of darkness.
Some might call this idea legalistic or simply believe that this is not a stumbling block for them.  I would not begin to try to force this change of thought/heart on anyone.  It is a decision that everyone must make between themselves and Jesus. However, we must remember that Satan comes like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.  He comes to steal , kill, and destroy. (1 Peter 5:8;  John 10:10)  Jesus said that Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44) His art is deception.  He wants to make things that are not godly appear harmless so as to draw us away from Jesus.  The same is true of the music we listen to.  It is designed to take godly ideas like love and sex and make them so common and disassociated from God’s original plan that we don’t even realize it is happening.  Most secular lyrics and some music is designed to completely distract from the fact that God was ever associated with these ideas.  The rest of it blatantly glorifies most things that are sinful.
That is just media.  How about the social aspect of our daily walk?  How many professing Christians engage in sexual immorality of any kind?  How many professing Christians engage regularly in other sins of the flesh such as telling or engaging in dirty jokes, participating in gossip, lying, stealing, profanity, hatred.  If these are common threads in how you conduct your daily lives.  If you are living with little to no conviction or interest in changing these behaviors, then you had better take a serious look at your relationship with Jesus and consider it’s validity.(Galatians 5:19-21)  God’s Word pulls no punches in it’s stance on all of this and how it affects your salvation.
For myself, I have been guilty of many of these sins at a time in my life when I thought I was a Christian.  I would never have justified my actions.  In fact, I argued with other’s, who were as guilty as I of professing Christ and yet living in sin, that I was completely in the wrong by my actions, but I was still living out those things daily. The more I study the Word, the more I realize how displeasing my life was to God and that I am almost certain I would not have had a leg to stand on if I had met my maker then.  Read Matthew 7:13-23.  Jesus makes it plain, as he does in many places in the Gospels that small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to eternal life and few will find it.  That there are many that believe they are going to heaven even because of their devout religious commitment, but have no relationship with Jesus, simply empty works fueled by a selfish motivation.  God's Word makes it plain that Salvation without Lordship is no Salvation at all.  You are saved by grace not works for certain.  However, if your Salvation is genuine the fruits of God’s Lordship in your life will absolutely be evidence of that. 
I have decided that I want everything else in my life to take a backseat to my relationship with Jesus and that I will try not to do anything that would hinder that. I hope you will do the same  His grace is sufficient to cover any sin you have committed.  If you have not made him Lord of your life I encourage you to do that today.  Ask Jesus to help you fall in love with him.  From there it is much less difficult to obey because you will find yourself doing it out of a loving, selfless desire rather than obligation.
 As always, everything that I post about is out of a genuine love for God, and  lost souls, and a desire to see the two reconciled.  Please pray about these things, search your soul and make sure you are in right standing with God. 
Love in Christ,