When I say “I am a Christian,” I am not shouting that I am living clean. I am whispering I was lost but now I am found and forgiven.
When I say “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak this with pride. I am confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide
When I say “I am a Christian,” I am not trying to be strong, I am professing that I am weak and need His strength to carry on.
I am currently reading the book, “The Romance of Grace”, by Jim McNeely III, where, at one point, the author quotes Jesus’ parable of the Pearl Merchant:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it., Matthew 13:45,46
The author points out that the merchant is God, seeking the finest pearls. When He finds one, His desire for that pearl is so great that He is willing to sacrifice everything for it, even giving His own life as the only satisfactory price of redemption. That is how much God loves me, because I am the pearl He seeks. And, so are you! That is why John 3:16 says:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I am reminded of a verse from the song, “Above All”, by Michael W. Smith:
Crucified, laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
He thought of me, above all. He considered my life, even before His own. I can’t even comprehend love like that.
What a love like that does though is encourage a response of love in kind. I find I want nothing more than to express His love in my life, toward Him, and toward others.
The full title of this post should be: ”A Conversation With Anton and Testimonial To The True Power of Jesus Christ”
What follows are answers to a post by “Anton”. I have copied his post and edited the post to appear as a conversation between Anton and me. Note that the content of Anton’s post were not altered by my editing, at least not intentionally.
You can see Anton’s original post here: http://mylordisjesus.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/atheism-science-higgs-boson-and-the-godhead/#comment-1017
Anton: Sorry for my delay, and as I told Ged, this is unfortunately how it goes for me.
John: That’s quite all right Anton, we all have lives, and I can quite understand how delays, even long ones, can develop.
Anton: I have a couple of questions for you. What kind of church did you grow up in?
John: I grew up in a Methodist Church. In fact, my Father, a carpenter who helped to build the church building, and my Mother, were founding members.
I attended that church from as early as I can remember, probably about 4, until I made it quite clear to my parents that I wanted nothing more to do with the church, at the age of 12 or 13. The problem was, they weren’t telling me anything I wanted to hear, it was all just a bunch of meaningless ritual. I thought it was worthless at the time, and my opinion of the ritual hasn’t changed, it is still worthless as far as I am concerned.
Anton: How was it different from your faith now?
John: The only things I knew then were the stories of the Bible, the rituals that I mentioned already, and the preaching of the Pastor, telling me how I needed tobe a better person and such. There was never any mention of The Gospel of Jesus Christ, no mention that Jesus is a living person that I could have a relationship with, and no mention that I was a sinner in need of salvation, all things that I consider to be of primary importance today.
Anton: How were you confronted with “the living Lord Jesus”?
John: In high school and in my years of “higher education” I learned to think analytically and pursued a well-paying and highly technical career path. Even in my early years I considered myself successful. I was able to provide myself with pretty much anything I wanted, and in my youth that ended up being partying, which meant alcohol and drug consumption, and relationships with women. I was involved in that lifestyle for over 10 years. I wasn’t hurting anyone, and I felt justified in what I was doing. After all, I was doing just as I pleased.
The only problem was, I was not happy. My solution was, of course, to immerse myself more and more in my chosen lifestyle. But that was no good either. You see, I was beginning to become convicted of my actions. I knew, from my early training, that adultery and fornication were sins. I knew that lying was a sin, and if you’ve ever been involved in drug use, you are probably familiar with how easily one lies when it suits him or her. I also was in heavy rebellion against my parents, and I knew that my behavior was not at all honoring to them.
I did not know it then, but it was Jesus who was convicting me, and I was not able to escape His conviction. I was on a downward spiral, and when I reached the bottom, Jesus was there. I was at a point in my life where I did not want to live it any longer. I was not suicidal, but I desperately wanted to change my behavior, and was trapped!
And it was then that Jesus showed me the way out. Jesus showed me that He died for my sins, those that were in the past, and those yet in the future. He showed me that all I needed to do was to admit my need for a Savior, and to trust in the sacrifice He had made on my behalf , His death on the cross, He died for me, taking the punishment I deserved.
Anton: How was this relationship missing in those early years?
John: In my earlier encounter with church, I knew only a religion, a dead religion that had no ability to give life. What I learned much later had nothing to do with religion, or even with church, but with a relationship with Jesus. Note that this relationship only began after He revealed Himself to me.
Anton: What do you mean Jesus confronted you with “His Life”?
John: See above
Anton: What do you mean by “heart knowledge”?
John: As I am sure you are aware, the reality of Jesus’ existence is not something that can be proven objectively. One either believes that He lives, or he does not. I, through the interactions I have had with Him am thoroughly convinced that He lives, even though I have not seen Him. I have “heard” His voice many times in prayer and He has communicated with me in many ways. How can it be that I would believe He is real without any evidence? One might well ask me another question: “How can you be sure this Anton fellow exists, without any real evidence?”. And my answer would be the same, “Perhaps you have not proof that Anton exists, but I know in my heart that he is real.”.
So, you see? Many things in our lives we know by faith, from the mundane to the supernatural. Think about it some time, and you might surprise yourself how much faith you have that various things are true.
Anton: Sorry, but I have intention on beginning to seek Jesus no more than I intend to seek Heracles or Thor. I already sought Him, didn’t find him, and realized that was because, like Heracles and Thor, there is no Him.
John: I understand your position entirely, and I will not ask that you seek Him. Always keep in mind though, I never sought Him either. The fact of the matter is, Jesus was the furthest thing from my mind, but He sought me, and found me.
Perhaps one day He will seek you out as well. My prayer is that if that day comes that your heart will be open to His prompting.
My best wishes,
A few days ago, I was reading Psalm 119 as part of my devotion. When I came to this verse, the Lord pointed out something that I had never noticed before.
God’s Word is a light to my path, enabling me to see where I am going. I see this as me understanding God’s overall plan of salvation, so that I can understand my entire path through life and eternity, from my sin in Adam all the way to my glorification in Jesus when He returns, and beyond. From the Light of God’s Word, I can see the overall path that God has designed for all believers.
But there is not only the general light, there is also a “lamp unto my feet”. I see this as much more focused. The lamp at my feet does not show me the broad strokes of God’s plan, but rather it allows me to see the next step that God wants me to take. Or maybe, if I peer deeply into His Word, I might be able to make out the next two steps. The lamp does not have a long-range, so it will not show me, except on rare occasions, what God wants for me a year from now, or five. But it will show me what He wants for me today. And, if I am living in faith and in trust of my Lord, being able to see today is enough.
I hope that you find this passage of His Word as much a blessing as I do.
Such a beautiful verse! God’s Word, His written Word, our Bible is a lamp unto our feet. And not just His written Word, but the Word that was with God from the beginning, our Lord Jesus.
I see from this verse that the Word has two purposes. It lights our path, constantly showing us what is ahead so that we may not stray from His way of righteousness. But it is up to us to stay on the path, and not veer off to the right or left, into the shadows and darkness that leads away from the way of our Lord.
His Word is also a lamp for our feet. The image here is interesting, and different from the overall lighting of our path. With a lamp constantly at our feet, we are able to see the next step we are to take, maybe even the next two, but the lamp does not light our way so that we can see the next five or ten steps we will be taking. No, the lamp is at our feet, lighting only the immediate way before us.
And the lamp that lights our way and lights our path is The Word of God. If we are not reading the Word, the Light will fade, and we will quickly find ourselves stumbling around in darkness. We could even think of His Word as oil for our lamps. The more oil we have, or the more we immerse ourselves in His Word, the more brightly our lamp will burn, and the more clearly we will discern the way that The Lord has made for us.
11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
14 And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
This God, who is exalted above the highest heaven, is the same God who reached down into the depths of my sinful life and humbled Himself to the point of death, for me!
When the day comes, I will be there among those millions who worship His name for ever and ever. Will you be there with me? Are you worshiping His name today?
First off, I want to acknowledge the source of my title phrase, it comes from the “Be Better Not Bitter” Blog, and this excellent post. My thanks to Shenine and her excellent work! When I first read Shenine’s phrase about being married to Jesus I knew I had to expand a little on it, so, here goes.
Many Christians would like to believe that they can have their salvation with the Lord, and still play around with their favorite sins now and then. They want to profess a relationship with Jesus on the one hand, but still have a little fling from time to time, to keep things interesting. In other words, they want to be married to their Lord, but still maintain an adulterous relationship with Satan. Here is what the Bible says about that idea:
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:10 (KJV)
The Bible does not leave us free to serve the Lord part-time and then turn around and serve Satan part-time. The Bible calls on us to choose, and choose today, who will we serve? This choice is not to be taken lightly, much is at stake here so it is up to us to choose wisely. The Bible says:
15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lordthy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. – Deuteronomy 30:15-20
What will we follow? Will we follow life and good? Or will we follow death and evil? Jesus, or Satan? We can’t follow both.
The prophet Elijah asks the same question:
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” – i Kings 18:21 (NKJV)
We have a choice to make: Who is our God? Is it Jesus? Is it Satan? Is it our flesh? The world and its pleasures? But Jesus says:
If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. – Luke 9:23 (KJV)
Notice, Jesus does not say that we are to indulge our flesh when we wish or take a little time away to keep company with the world? No, he said that we are to deny ourselves.
And finally, it is not enough that we call Jesus our Savior and then don’t do the things that He says. Jesus put it this way:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21 (KJV)
Remember, we are to:
Enter (ye) in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. – Matthew 7:13,14 (KJV)
Well, I was reading John 17 today, “The High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus, and the answer jumped out at me. I will quote part of it here:
18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. 26 And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus prays specifically that His Church be united, and in verses 21 and 23 He gives the reason, ”that the world may believe that You sent Me” and “and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me“. When we are One Body in Christ, united under One Lord, we are a powerful force in the world, proclaiming through our unity, that Jesus is the Christ, sent be God as a Savior to the world. That is what God intended for His Church from the beginning.
But it seems we have listened to Satan rather than to our Father and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and instead of being a unified body, we have divisions everywhere! We have one group that believes, “Once saved, always saved” and another that believes you can lose your salvation. We have one group that believes that anyone can be saved, and another that believes that only a group specifically elected to salvation by God can be saved. I could go on and on, but that would be boring, and I think you have gotten my point. So, we have hundreds of denominations and sects, all of them believing that they are right, and all others are wrong.
Rather than listening to God’s Holy Spirit that dwells within us, and clinging to His simple Gospel message, we have chosen rather to allow Satan to stir up our pride and to divide us against ourselves and against our Lord, making us complicit in his attack against our God and His (our) Church, our very own Spiritual Body.
Divisions in the Church were first addressed by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians and since that day, divisions among us have only gotten worse!
The really sad thing is, it never had to be this way. In Christ, we are more than conquerors, over Satan and over every enemy of the Church. It has always been in our power to stop divisions, but sadly, we never have.
And, can I share the really, really sad thing? If we were half the followers of Christ that we claim to be (and I do include myself) this NEVER would have happened! How can we say that we are His followers, and that Christ lives in us and through us, and then, through our inaction allow this situation to be perpetuated?
This is not something that we will change in a year, or even five or ten. It is something that we could change in a generation.
But only if we start today! Won’t you join us?
If I were to ask any born again Christian if they believe that Jesus died for all of their sins, I know that nearly all of them would answer with an unequivocal “Yes!”. And that is great, because Jesus truly did die for all of our sins. And, if that were all there was to it, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.
Unfortunately, probably a majority of those who answered “yes” to the first question would, if asked, “What do you make of verses like John 1:9 then?”, would answer with something to the effect of we need to keep short accounts with God, otherwise we will be out of fellowship with Him. It is that issue that I would like to address in this post.
If Jesus truly died for all of our sins, and I believe there is ample evidence to conclude this decisively, then there are no sins left for God to hold against us, correct? If God is still holding my sins against me, then it must not really be forgiven. If it is not forgiven, how can it be dealt with? It seems to me that if any of my sins are yet unforgiven that Jesus would have to die once again to make payment for it. And we know the Bible is clear, that is not going to happen. The Bible says that Christ died for sins once!
Another explanation I have heard is that today, we get our sins forgiven by confessing them to God and then repenting of them. Really? If sins can be forgiven by confession and repentance, then why did Christ have to die? If we believe that sins can be forgiven so easily today, then we are doing two things, first, we are drastically under estimating the seriousness of sin, and second, we are drastically under valuing the preciousness of Christ’s blood. We are saying that our (works) confession and repentance are of equal value to Christ’s blood. I would call that pretty close to blasphemy, wouldn’t you?
No, the title of this piece says it all. When we sin, there is nothing that we can do but fall on our face in worship and thanksgiving that our God has already forgiven our sin when Jesus spilled His precious blood on our behalf and accept His free gift of Love for His children.
The person who lives a life of confession and repentance lives in constant fear that he might have missed a sin, or that maybe his confession or repentance is not sincere enough.
The person who lives a life knowing that His sins are already forgiven lives in continual thanksgiving, worship, and praise of His Lord for the gracious gift He has provided.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
At once, this verse is both a commentary on the desperation of Man’s condition before God and a prophesy about the sacrifice that was to be made by the Messiah in becoming the propitiation for our sins.
During worship and prayer this morning during church I was meditating on the love that the Lord has for His children. I don’t know about you, but I have wandered away from the Lord several times in my life. Whether by alcohol and drugs, of by engaging in immoral sexual practices, or by putting other things first in my life which are, if we are being honest, forms of idolatry, I have strayed far from the Lord’s chosen path for me on a number of occasions. On any of those occasions the Lord would have been more than justified to just throw up His hands and say, “Fine! If you like being apart from Me so well the just GO! I am finished with you!”
But He never did, and He never would. But today in particular, I was feeling enveloped by a love so strong that even my worst sin would never even dent His steadfast love for me.
4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ 7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. – Luke 15:4-7
Today, I saw this parable in a different light. I believe that it not only refers to the person who strays in a bit way by falling into drug use or infidelity to one’s spouse or anything that may draw us away from our Savior’s love and guidance for months or even years. It also refers to the one, I believe, who falls into temptation and sin even for an hour, even for a minute. At the moment when we realize that we are engaging in sin, and that we are breaking our Savior’s heart, when we turn again to follow Him who bought us with His own blood, there is rejoicing in heaven that a wayward son or daughter, a wandering sheep, has turned away from the darkness of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and has chosen rather to gaze into the eternally loving face of their Savior.
Lord, reveal Your steadfast love that I may choose the world less and less, and You more and more. Amen!