“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life”(I Jno.5:13). I’m convinced there are plenty of faithful Christians who are not sure of their salvation. When they feel they’ve had a good day as a Christian, they tend to feel more saved. On Sunday during worship and Bible study, they truly believe they are saved. My question is what changes throughout the week? John says that Christians can know they have eternal life. Why would John make such a bold and inspired statement if it was not truth?
I believe with all of my heart that the above passage is true. I also believe that Christians benefit greatly when they have assurance of their salvation. It’s very difficult to influence others for Jesus and salvation when you’re not sure of your own salvation. It’s not arrogant to have assurance of your salvation, it’s faith and trust in God. We believe in God and we believe that the Bible is God’s Word, so we should believe what God says in His Word. Having assurance of your salvation is a great gift because it changes attitudes and lives. When our attitudes and lives are changed, people notice and we have opportunities to tell them about the sweet assurance of heaven that we have through Jesus.
We live in a world that is obsessed with riches and wealth. The world says, the more money you have the happier you’ll be. It seems the American dream is to be rich. Everyone just wants money and a lot of it. Those who have great wealth are placed on pedestals like heroes because of their sizeable bank accounts and many assets. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with being successful in this life. I just have a hard time believing that financial wealth in this life is what it’s all about or even true riches.
“Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf”(Prov.11:28). Many do fall because their trust is in their physical riches. Physical riches come and go and even have the tendency to take our focus away from what’s most important. If you want true and lasting riches, be righteous. “The righteous will flourish” because their focus is continually on God and their daily life reflects that. A righteous lifestyle is true riches because it has lasting positive affects in this life and eternity. A righteous lifestyle also has the potential of pointing others to the Lord without ever uttering a single word.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”(Mt.5:6).
“And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men”(Mk.1:17). This is a short but meaningful statement. Very simple, yet extremely profound. The words “fishers of men” would have resonated with those Jesus was speaking to, because He was talking to men who made their living as fishermen. Now, they’re being told to stop fishing for fish and he’ll teach them to fish for men. Jesus had their attention, so much so that “they left their nets and followed Him”(Mk.1:18). Jesus spent some three years with these men teaching them to be fishers of men.
A fisher of men is a Christian that’s doing all he or she can to win lost souls to the Lord. The church is here to evangelize the world in hopes of saving many souls for the Lord. Sometimes I wonder if the church today has dropped the nets of evangelism and focused more on issues. I’ve said it many times, lost people don’t care about issues no matter how important those issues are to Christians. As the Lord’s church we must keep the main thing the main thing and be fishers of men. Issues divide us but evangelism will unite us in the Lord. May we have the faith of the early disciples to follow Jesus and be fishers of men.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”(Mt.28:19-20).
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way”(I Tim.2:1-2). As Christians we have a responsibility to pray for the President and all of our leaders. We pray for the sick, and we should. We pray for families, and we should. But do we pray for the leaders of our country? You may not like our leaders or what they stand for. You may not agree with their ideas, plans or their methods, but you can at the very least pray for them.
Instead of griping, fussing and complaining about the leadership of our country, why not do something about it? Maybe you’re thinking, if I could I would, but there’s nothing I can do. I totally disagree with that mindset. Pray! Please just pray for the leaders of our country that God would open their hearts to make decisions that would honor Him. Pray that our leaders will have a great spiritual revival that will influence the whole country. Great and amazing things happen when God’s people pray, so pray for our leaders. Developing a bad attitude toward the leaders of our country will not help any situation at all. But, praying for God to lead them as they lead us may make more of a difference than you realize.
You don’t have to agree with someone to pray for them. I pray for non-Christians, atheists, drug addicts and the immoral and I don’t agree with any of them. I even pray for leaders whom I disagree with on important topics, because I believe in God and the power of prayer. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit”(Jas.5:16-18).
The Christian’s walk has everything to do with how he or she lives every day. God has expectations for the Christian’s walk. First of all, God expects His children to walk in the light. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin”(I Jno.1:7). Walking in the light is following Jesus and living an obedient life for Him. Walking in the light means you’re striving to live a life that honors your heavenly Father. Walking in the light is not about being perfect, it’s about being faithful to God. If we walk in the light, we have a relationship with God and our sins are cleansed by the blood of His Son.
God also expects Christians to walk in wisdom. “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time”(Col.4:5). Walking in wisdom is living daily with our influence as Christians in mind. In other words, the Christian who walks in wisdom is cautious about how he lives, speaks and acts in front of others. There are constantly others watching us just because we are Christians, so it is important that we walk in wisdom. The greatest sermon a non-Christian will ever experience is a Christian who is faithfully walking in the light and walking in wisdom. Christian watch your walk!
God’s forgiveness is such a gift and blessing and we all need it. Forgiving those who wrong you is so powerful as it frees you from holding a grudge and the danger of losing your soul. But, what about forgiving yourself? This is a tough one and I believe one that affects us all. I have no problem forgiving others, but forgiving myself when I mess up is another story. The tendency is to be tougher on myself and even hold myself to a higher standard. That makes my shortcomings seem worse and more difficult for me to forgive and get past.
“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”(I Tim.1:15). The apostle Paul felt he was the worst of all sinners. I’m sure at times you’ve felt that same way, I know I have. Paul did have quite a colorful past of persecuting the church. Paul also became a faithful servant of Jesus and gospel preacher who wrote more Scripture than anyone. How did Paul deal with his past indiscretions and become so effective for the Lord? He trusted God’s grace to cover and forgive his sins from baptism on (Acts 22:16) and Paul forgave himself. The Christian who does not forgive himself will live in guilt every day and hinder his spiritual growth and effectiveness for the Lord.
“Brothers, 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, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”(Phil.3:13-14).
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive”(Col.3:12-13). Paul teaches that Christians are to forgive as God forgives. God forgives us every time we fall short. So, the Christian’s responsibility is to forgive others, even the repeat offenders. This is tough at times, depending on the severity of the offense. No matter how hurt I am or how personal the offense is, my role as a Christian is to forgive.
True forgiveness is as much for the one giving forgiveness as it is for the one needing forgiveness. When you truly forgive someone, you free yourself from holding on to negative feelings and a potential grudge. Forgiveness is about letting go of the past and moving forward. Part of letting go and forgiving is also forgetting. If you can’t forget about it, whatever it is, then you aren’t willing to forgive. When God forgives, He forgets.(Heb.8:12) That painful experience may be locked in your mind from now on, but when you forgive, you choose to forget by not bringing it up again.
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”(Mt.6:14-15).
We’ve all done things we regret. In fact, some live with guilt every day because of a sin they committed. The positive aspect of guilt is that it lets us know we did wrong. But, unresolved guilt is never a positive thing. To live in guilt on a daily basis will hinder one’s spiritual growth. King David lived in guilt over his sin with Bathsheba until he acknowledged his sin to God. “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin”(Psalm 32:5).
The best news of all is that God forgives. No matter where you’ve been and what you’ve done, God forgives. I know you and I know our sins better than anyone and that’s why we struggle with guilt. We overcome guilt by knowing and believing that God forgives. The interesting thing is that God so desperately wants to forgive us that He shed the blood of His Son on the cross for our redemption. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace”(Eph.1:7).
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you”(Eph.4:32).
I love the highlights. Doesn’t matter if it’s golf, football, baseball or basketball, I just enjoy seeing the highlights of the previous night’s games. The highlights represent the best plays and shots of the game. Typically, the highlights are the most exciting parts of the game. The highlights are what everyone talks about the next few days.
Life has its highlights, but life is not just a highlight reel. In fact, life is full of difficult and discouraging times. Jesus even said, “in the world you will have tribulation”(Jno.16:33). But, today’s social media sure makes life seem like one highlight after another. People are literally a few clicks away from viewing any and everything that’s going on in a friend’s life. And, most people only post the highlights. So, Facebook becomes for some a modern highlight reel of their life. This leads to discouragement and even depression for the active Facebook junkie who views all the highlights of a friend’s life on a daily basis.
I’m not trying to be critical or judgmental. I’m not even encouraging people to stop posting life highlights or to start posting the bad with the good. My point is this, social media doesn’t reveal the whole story. When you view someone’s life highlights, understand that they have endured difficult times too that they didn’t include in their posts. Don’t feel bad about yourself or your life because of the posted highlights of others. At the end of the day, none of us are perfect so none of us have the perfect life, at least not this side of heaven.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”(Rom.3:23)
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death”(Jas.1:13-15). No matter the situation or circumstances, it seems we always want to blame someone else. Has our culture conditioned us over the years to believe that it’s always somebody else’s fault? It’s not my child’s fault, it’s the teachers. My child wouldn’t dare do that, it must have been one of the other kids.
James says, if you’re talking about being tempted and sinning, don’t blame God. In fact, don’t blame anyone but yourself. That’s right, when it comes to yielding to temptations, you and I must take ownership. There’s no one for us to blame for our own personal temptations and sin struggles, but ourselves. It’s when we stop passing the blame and take ownership for our actions that we begin to see growth and change in ourselves. Reality is, if one never takes responsibility for his own actions, then he’ll never see the need to change his behavior. As Christians we should live every day with an attitude of repentance and a willingness to change whatever behavior is not pleasing to God.