Right Between the Eyes

www.bible.com/1713/mic.6.8.csb

Have you ever earnestly prayed for something, begging God for an answer, not get an answer, before some more, get nothing, and then open up something innocuous like a Bible app, and suddenly, God is speaking to you? Yeah, well, you’ve pegged my day today.

What does God want from you? He hasn’t been silent. In fact, He told Micah centuries ago in another language what He wants. Act justly. Love faithfulness. Walk humbly with God. Can you handle that?

Act justly – be just and fair in your actions with others. Pay what you owe. Give according to service rendered. Even be generous if you can. Put in your hours as you have been paid for and agreed to. Be a good employee.

Love faithfulness – be loyal, don’t betray a confidence, enjoy faithfulness to your spouse, your friends, even to make new friends. Treat others well.

Walk humbly before God – Remember Who is running the universe. Remember who makes the rules and has the power to take you home at anytime. Respect His rules, His Word, and His time. Everything is the Lord’s. Every person is the Lord’s. Treat them accordingly.

I hope you needed that. I sure did. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I don’t need a special message from God. He’s already sent it.

God bless you today.

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Believe

www.bible.com/1713/gen.15.6.csb

While I see this word posted and repeated around Christmastime, I don’t think it has the same effect. Then it’s belief in a diminutive elf-man called Santa Claus and the whole mythology that surrounds him. No, that’s not saving belief.

Abram believed God and it was credited to his account as righteousness. Abram was granted some credit for his faith in God. I think we all do today, but we also have more knowledge than Abram did, namely of His Son Christ Jesus.

Belief in God is the beginning of faith in Jesus Christ, which Jesus credits toward salvation. You must believe if you are to be saved at all. Without faith it is impossible to please God.

Just a thought for a Monday morning. Trust God. Exercise your faith in Him. He loves you and will send you exercises. 😁

God bless.

Strength for the Journey

www.bible.com/1713/isa.40.31.csb

Looking at this verse I came to a revelation. Trust isn’t passive. When you look at the verbs this verse uses, it begins with “trust in the Lord” and then continues with three action verbs that describe this renewal of strength. The first is “soar” as if in active flight. The second “run” as in rapidly moving across land, and third “walk” at a slower pace, but still moving. All of these verbs suggest movement. Trust is not passive, something you receive. Trust is active, and calls for movement.

Trust requires exercise.

How do you exercise your trust in God? You can do things He has told you He would equip you for. You can volunteer at church and trust that God will provide with ability to fulfill it (like kids ministry). Or you could witness to others, with the confidence that God has already prepared hearts to receive the gospel. You could practice your faith before others, trusting God to give you a ready defense in that hour you are questioned about it.

Passive faith is never tested. Passive trust stays in the shadows of our life. “Faith without world is dead” said James many years ago. He’s not wrong. If people can’t tell you are a Christian by your actions, don’t bother telling them. That’s where hypocrites come from. Don’t be a hypocrite.

God bless you today. Exercise your faith. Be strong!

Easy Enough to Say

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.1.csb

You are familiar with the saying, “easier said than done.” That applies to a lot of things, like parenting, getting a job, or finishing your degree. In fact, I think it applies to just about anything. So too it applies to our walk with Jesus. This verse really encapsulates what it is to be a Christian. It is far easier to say “I believe in Jesus” than it is to live that way. Easier to say “Jesus is Lord” than to actually let Him be Lord of your whole life.

Now there are tough words to say in life, like “Will you marry me?” or “It’s cancer.” You don’t say or repeat those words often. They are so hard because of the implications behind them. It used to be the same was felt about “I believe that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.” It was a once in a lifetime statement of faith preceding baptism and pointed out to the world that you were walking the path of faith. But for the sake of making converts, the bar has dropped to mere assent of Faith. “I agree with Jesus!” Baptism is not longer once in a lifetime, but once as often as you come to a fresh understanding of your faith and brokenness. (No, I don’t agree with re-baptism, but I can’t deny someone who feels a real need to do so.)

Living out your faith ought to be loved with the full implication of the words which precede it. That said, I don’t know of many who actually succeed, including this author. I think it becomes a matter of maturity the closer we get to that ideal, and is not easily apprehended by the novice. We find from time to time that we didn’t understand the commitment we made when we first come to Christ. That’s called maturing. It doesn’t need rebaptism so much as fresh commitment to live up to this new understanding. Willingness to live out our faith requires time and energy. We ought to find ourselves even more committed and more willing to pray and read and fellowship than we did before. We ought to see more opportunities for sharing our faith and making an impact for the kingdom. Why? Because Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of all things, not just just those we surrender to Him.

Following Jesus is easier said than done, but nothing worth doing is easy. And this is certainly is worth doing.

God bless!

Be Courageous!

www.bible.com/72/jhn.16.33.hcsb

If there is any phrase often repeated in the Bible, it is “Be strong and courageous” or variations of it. That is very telling of what our role is. While God has conquered evil and death, done all of the heavy-lifting for our salvation, He still leaves it to us to have an attitude of strength and courage. He doesn’t offer His courage to us, but calls us to it.

So what is courage? What is this thing we call bravery or valor? Is it not the hope that things will turn out ok and acting accordingly? Men will brave fire and smoke to rescue people trapped in a burning building. We call that courage. Is it? Isn’t it also training yourself in the dangers of fire and learning how to avoid getting burned? Is it the willingness to subject yourself to danger, the uncertainty of random accident? Is that courage?

If so, then to call us to courage is to call us to “face uncertain days because He lives.” Our burning building is this world, burning down all around us. Our courage is the willingness to face the uncertainty of what will happen to us if we go in, to save someone in that building from burning to death. Courage is hope that we will be ok. Courage is knowing we go in with divine protection, knowing that death is only temporary. Courage is willing put ourselves at risk, even of death, to carry out our Father’s orders. That takes courage. He does not force us, but calls us to take the step forward.

Courage, like faith and hope, not only call for belief in something I may not have actually seen or experienced, but also the action to demonstrate our commitment. Be strong and courageous. For I have overcome the world.

God bless you today.

Good Mourning

www.bible.com/72/mat.5.4.hcsb

What route do you take through grief? Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once penned the roadmap through grief. It starts with denial, then goes to anger, bargaining through to acceptance. Not everyone takes the same path, but the human reaction to grief for all its reasons tends toward the same direction as the human mind readjusts to a new normal. Grief isn’t over quickly either. While a person may experience all of these things in the immediate aftermath, they will also experience them on significant anniversaries and reminders of the event. Grief can last for a lifetime, depending on the significance of the object lost.

Knowing that mourning deals particularly with human loss, I am intrigued by Jesus’s statement. He pronounces blessing over those that mourn, for they shall receive comfort from God. This is the same Jesus who will rise from the dead just a year or so from this point giving the Christian cause for rejoicing. The resurrection directly refuted mourning, because the dead are raised! Aren’t these values in conflict? No.

In fact they complement each other. Jesus earlier words were placed in the future tense. “They shall be comforted.” Now we mourn, but in the future we will be comforted. What would change that would cause us to be comforted? Belief in the resurrection! Even now, we are comforted when a loved on dies that they are with Jesus. That is comforting. How are they with Jesus? Because if anyone believes in Jesus, though he were dead, is alive in Christ. This is a powerful truth in the midst of mourning. The possibility of life after death existed in Judaism before, but was refined and given more specifics in Christ. This is certainly comfort for the believer.

“But what about …”

If your loved one didn’t believe in Jesus, then we have every reason to mourn. I am sorry. If they were witnessed to and knew the requirements of the gospel and still refused to surrender to God’s Love, I am truly sorry. I know that sounds harsh, but Jesus endured hell for them. I believe some leniency will be given to those who have never heard, but they will be judged on the light they have been given and how obedient they were to it. “All have sinned, and have fallen short of the glory of God.” Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

God bless you today.

Sounds Like Work

www.bible.com/72/heb.11.6.hcsb

In Christian circles, a “work” is defined as something a person does to earn his salvation. Since Christians cannot warm their salvation through “works” but through grace (bought by the blood of Christ), “works” are seen as something Christians don’t need to worry about. We are saved by grace, right?

So what is this verse saying? Without Faith it is impossible to please God. Ow let me clarify. This verse is speaking to Christians, those who have already been saved through Christ. But the point being made is one of principle. It is part of the “hall of Faith” passage of Hebrews 11. It is stated as an absolute, something which is always true, no matter the circumstances. So what is meant here by faith? You might note that in this context, Faith is always accompanied by some evidence of that faith. By faith, Abel offered a better sacrifice. By faith, Noah built a boat and so on. For each individual, their faith (which pleased God) was accompanied by a work that proved that faith. So might we go back and say that without faith (and thee evidence to back it up, i.e., works) it is impossible to please God. All of these men (and women) lived before Christ, so that their faith had to be established by an accompanying work in order for them to receive salvation from sin. Hmmm.

Now we are told that all we have to do is believe. Just believe, and we will be saved. That must mean that all demons are saved too, since James tells us that the demons believe in God. No? Maybe something else is required. We need to apply the blood of Christ to the heart to cleanse it from sin. How do we do that? Does that occur at the moment of faith? Is a quiet assent enough to qualify as saving faith? At least Baptists call for the Sinner’s Prayer (which cannot be found in the Bible). They say this needs to be done to “invite Jesus into your heart”. Well somebody get Noah in the phone. If Noah has merely prayed the sinner’s prayer, he would have been just fine, right? Oh, but Noah was given specific instructions as to how to be saved. He had to hold an ark. His faith in God motivated Him to build it. No, the direct message and instruction from God motivated him to build it. His faith motivated Him to carry it through.

Does the Bible carry a clear word of God for salvation? Yes, in fact it does. It says, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16), you will be saved. It also says that repentance from sin leads to salvation. (1 Cor 7) It also says that if you confess the Lord’s name you will be saved (Rom 10) And it says that you are cleansed via baptism, your heart is purified to a clear conscience toward God (1Pet 3) , and you will rise from the waters of baptism in newness if life (Rom 6), from the waters of regeneration. If you are immersed in water (provided you have also believed) you will be saved. The Bible has a clear word for all of these. None of these, not even baptism, is a work to earn salvation, but a work to testify of faith. Faith which pleases God for salvation includes not only belief in God, but repentance from sin, confession of Christ’s Lordship over your life (and confession of faith in Christ) and immersion in water as cleansing for the spirit.

There is much more to say about this, but this will do for today. I want to encourage you, if you have not made a public confession of Jesus, nor repented of sin (putting your sinful past behind you) or been immersed in water, then you ought to look into these things.

God bless you today.