Growing Up

All it takes is a seed, and under the right conditions, a mighty plant will soon take its place. But growing righteousness is a careful thing. You must have light front the Son, His truth as your daily diet. You must surround yourself in the right environment, not immersed in the temptations that we easily fall prey to, but making every effort to live unstained by the world. As you grow, you will meet challenges to match your faithfulness. Storms will come that will try to blow you over back into the dirt. But the Master Gardener is there to pick you back up again. He is never far, and sees all your trouble. He wants you to grow, and will do all that you allow Him and maybe a bit more. Be firmly rooted in His soil, grow in His light, and feed faithfully upon His truth. God bless you today.

Advertisements

Uncommitted!

In the gospels, Jesus walks along the seashore and sees some fishermen mending their nets. Jesus comes to them and announces clearly, “Follow Me!”. They immediately drop what they are doing and follow Him (I have to wonder where they thought they were going). But when you read in context, you find that for Peter, this was his third encounter with Jesus. He was familiar with what Jesus taught, and what Jesus’ purpose was, that is, to preach the coming kingdom. Jesus’ command to follow wasn’t from random stranger, but from a trusted friend. Maybe there is something to that in our modern context. We don’t call people to follow a random stranger they just met, but someone with whom they’ve become acquainted, even befriended. This is discipleship. Discipleship is commitment.

Jesus clearly calls for an answer to his command, “Follow Me.” When He does this, He isn’t suggesting that He is one choice among many for a route to everlasting life. He isn’t suggesting a part-time partnership. He is primary to the plan. It is His blood that atones completely for our sins, and no one else’s. It is He who is the “way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:8) “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Act 4:12, ESV) There is no one else who has the truth. (See John 6:68-69)

You may have trouble believing in a historical Jesus. Yet it has been clear, more than clear, even crystal clear, from historical evidence, personal testimony, and even scientific evidence, that the message of Christianity is absolutely reliable. It has not been proven beyond all possible doubt, but beyond all reasonable doubt. There is still room for faith. But many people: 1) don’t look at the evidence, 2) they base their opinion not on the facts, but on the evidence of their eyes, seeing Christians who fail in their discipleship, 3) they have a prior bias against Christianity anyway, and don’t either care or understand that their eternity is at stake. Therefore, when it comes to Christianity, most people vote “uncommitted”. This is a tragedy.

The Wave of Christianity has moved from through Western culture, continues on through Europe, the Americas, and now is moving through Asia to come full circle. Yet Europe is what is called by sociologists, “post-Christian”. That is to say, they have experienced the tide of the Church, gotten used to it, and now no longer deem it relevant. The Church in Europe is fast becoming a relic of history. The Church in America is still relevant, but its influence is diminishing. Why? Because the influence of the Christ is diminishing in the life of the Christian.

The question is about your commitment. The only way to stem the tide of dismissal and irrelevance is the commitment of everyday Christians. Will you be one to stand in the gap?

What Do I Need to Know to Become a Christian?

IMG20007

For many Christians, we have been Christian so long that we have forgotten what it was that brought to salvation in the first place. It’s hard to explain to someone interested in Christ how it is to become a Christian, so we ought to take some time looking at what it means to become a Christian.

Most Religions in the world call upon a new convert to perform a number of tasks to be saved. For example, the Muslims believe in five “pillars” or tasks essential to becoming a saved Muslim. This includes praying five time a day (facing Mecca), giving alms, and making at least one trip (or pilgrimage) to Mecca. Mormons on the other hand have to spend two years doing evangelistic work, which is why they stop by your door from time to time. Catholics have to work through nine sacraments of grace, including Christening, First Communion, Marriage in the Church or Holy Orders, Frequent Confession, and even Last Rites. But all of these beg for grace. All of these in their own way beg the Almighty, or as they see Him, for grace to be saved. They are all efforts done by men to earn grace, but sadly, all of these fall far short to be worthy of salvation.

“For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9) This is what makes Christianity different from every other Religion. Every other religion relies on the effort of men to secure their own salvation from judgment, but in Christ, God has done all the work. All we have to do is accept it. But before we say it’s easy, accepting the salvation that God offers through Christ.

Far from being work, but effort enough to make it memorable, salvation through Christ forces us to recall the events outside Jerusalem 2000 years ago, When God came down and offered His own Son in exchange for our lives. Walking through salvation takes us through the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Salvation in Christ isn’t all bottles up in a single text, though there are several texts that include more than one element. This calls for reading throughout the New Testament to get the full picture.

Believe

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
(Act 16:31)

Repent

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
(2Co 7:10)

Confess

because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
(Rom 10:9)

Be Baptized

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
(1Pe 3:21)

Work Out Your Salvation

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
(Php 2:12)

Giving

Lavish Expressions of Love

In light of the recent stories about churches removing people from membership for lack of attendance and lack of tithing, I am reminded of this passage in 2 Corinthians 8 about “God loves a cheerful giver”. A person should not give reluctantly or under compulsion, which is exactly what a church puts in place if they say you have to tithe to them to continue to be a member. There is some thing to be said for being an active attender of a church. A person ought not to neglect the fellowship. But church cannot demand a tithe, or make it a condition of membership. Rather, giving should be an expression of love and dependence on the Father who gives His own love lavishly in the atoning blood of his Son, i addition to the grace and blessings we receive every day.

God bless you on this Friday!

A Little More

Jesus Knows Why

Are you ever content with what you know about Jesus? Do you ever say, “I know enough”? Don’t. A mind closed to a deeper relationship to Jesus is a mind closed off to Jesus. Never be content, because knowing Jesus is one thing He tells us to pursue, to be greedy for, to never be satisfied with. For there is always more of Jesus to know and learn.

Worry and Anxiety

bible.com/72/mat.6.25.hcsb

is there a difference? Worry is something we do, almost reflexively. A lifestyle of worry is anxiety. Anxiety can become a medical condition, treated with medication. Jesus calls us not to a lifestyle of worry and self-doubt, but to trust in Him. When we worry, we proclaim that He is not enough for our needs, that our faith in His provision is faltering. I know this because worry has been the fault in my own family. And though there are times I have been anxious, I try not to think about the what-ifs. I encourage you to think about this text in the context of your own life. Ask yourself if there is anything that you hold on to that God cannot take up for you. “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” He offers to share the burdens with us, rather than we bear them alone.