Tuesday, June 28, 2016

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

The best place to start is to define “follow”.  It means to go or proceed after, to pursue, seek, accept as authority, imitate, walk or proceed along a path.  When Jesus said to “follow me”, He wants us to pursue after Him, to seek Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.  He wants us to imitate Him, be like Him.  He wants us to accept His authority.

We love the idea of following Jesus instead of actually following Jesus.  We try to make God into our own image.  We love the idea of exercising, because we know it’s good for us.  Some of us even have a tread mill, but like the discipline to use it.  It’s the same way we follow Jesus.  It takes discipline to live as Jesus lived.

We can follow Jesus by telling others He loves us and He loves them.  We know from the Bible that He loves us, pursues us and will never leave us.  He knows everything about us – our bad and our good.  We are to imitate Him by loving people, even those who are hard to love.  We are to be peace makers and love all kinds of people like He does.  We may not love what they say or do, but we are to love them.  “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:28-29.

We need to listen to Him.  We hear His voice through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus sent His Spirit to be with us after His resurrection.  The Holy Spirit is always with us to help and to guide.  The Bible is the source of spiritual nourishment.  We see Jesus in the Scriptures in many ways.  If you doubt, talk with God.  He is big and can take it.  Take those doubts to God. 

We all struggle with guilt at times.  That is from the enemy.  One of the biggest weapons of Satan is guilt and he loves for us to feel guilty.  Satan loves to remind us of our past failures and he wants us to keep thinking about them and how we missed up.  It then builds a stronghold in our minds.  Guilt robs our faith and confidence in Jesus.  If you have repented of your past sin, then forgive yourself.  Jesus has forgiven you so release yourself from that bondage and be free!  Again take those doubts and struggles to God. 

We compare ourselves to others.  We shouldn’t do that.  We are all different and make up the body of Christ.  You as an individual are special to Him.  “Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt.  When we compare ourselves to someone else, it takes away our joy.  We need to compete less and appreciate more.  We need to be more grateful.  Comparison doesn’t actually help accomplish anything.  Striving to be who God made you to be will give you meaning and satisfaction.  God says we should not be envious.  “Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.”Gal 6:4

So what does it mean to follow Jesus?  Does your day revolve around Jesus?  Do you start your day seeking Him?  Do you serve Him daily in some way?  Are you constantly thanking Him?  Do you take time to pray often?  Do you look for ways to show His love to others?

To truly follow Jesus means He has become everything to you and you do not follow anything else.  Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”Luke 9:23.  That is not easy.  We can’t do this by our own strength.  Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us.  The Pharisees were good examples of those who tried to obey God through their own strength.  Following Jesus means to strive to be like Him.  That’s a tall order, but notice I said “strive”.  Life is not easy and everyone is not easy to love.  But stick close to Jesus and ask Him to help you love like He loves.

To truly follow Jesus we must have the desire to follow Him, the faith in who He is, and accept His offer of eternal life.  This is a personal decision, a choice everyone is offered and must choose for himself.  This doesn’t mean we will never have trials, but God can show His might, mercy and grace through the worst of times.

Have you decided to follow Jesus?
Is your commitment to Him and Him alone?
Are you willing to be a real follower of Jesus?

I hope this has given you something to think about.  Thanks for stopping by.  Hope to see you here next time.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What does it mean to walk in the light?

As you know my websites is called “Walking in the Light” and both are based on 1 John 1:7“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”    But what does this verse really mean?

The word light means all that is good, holy, and right.  It is the character of God.  God is good, holy, and right.  He is the source of all truth.  He is light by His very nature.  Walking in the light is to live habitually in truth and holiness.   I’m not there yet, but as I grow in my faith I’m learning to be the light.

Light helps us not to stumble in the dark and trip over things.  Light exposes dangers and frees us.  To walk in the light is to live free from the bondage of sin.  Believers are given new life and unity with God.  There can be no unity between light and darkness.  God is the perfect pathway for us.  If you say you are a Christian, but do evil things, then you are walking in darkness not light.  We are to walk daily with Jesus.  His light promises hope and joy. 

Darkness threatens with despair and misery.  Walking in darkness means being a person of hate, while walking in light means loving people.  If you hate someone, you are in darkness.  We are not to love the world or anything in it.  The world is full of sinful cravings, lust, pride and self-centeredness.  We are to overcome the world.  “Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God,”1 John 5:5.  Real Christians live in the light.  They believe in Jesus and are united with God and other Christians.  Sometimes it can be hard and we don’t always do or say the right thing.  It does get easier to live as He desires, if we stay in His Word and on our knees.

Walking in darkness means you are blind to the light of God.  Anyone who loves the world more than God is in willful darkness.  “The light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19 When you walk in darkness, you are controlled by the desires of the world.

God provided a way to make us clean from all sin and delivers us from all dark dangers.  He sent His Son, Jesus to die on the cross.  Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse us from sin as we walk in His light.  By His death our sins are taken away.  We have Jesus as an example and God’s Word for us to live by.  Jesus fills our every longing.  He gives hope and joy.  When we walk in His light we have fellowship with God and with other believers.

How are you living and walking in His light?
Where in your life is there still darkness?
What do you need to change in your life?

In summary:
Walking in the light means living under the desire for God instead of the world.
Walking in the light means by confessing, the blood of Jesus covers all our sin.
Walking in the light means to have fellowship with God and other believers.

I hope this has given you something to think about – and pray about.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope to see you here next time.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Salvation Questions

We all have had or do have questions about salvation whether it is for ourselves or when asked by others.  I am sure there are many times someone has asked you questions and you may not always know just the right answer for them.  Here is a this list of frequently asked questions with Scripture references and I want to share them with you.   

What does being saved really mean?
We all are born into a world of sin and we as humans choose to sin.  It is our nature.  Sin is what separates us from God.  It makes us unsaved. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 
“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”Ecc. 7:20  God is holy and He cannot be where sin is.  When we die He wants us all to be with for eternity.  To do that we must repent of our sins and believe in His Son, Jesus.

How can I be saved?
This is the most important question of all.  It will determine where someone will spend eternity.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”Acts 16:31  It doesn’t say to be good and do good things.  It says to believe.  Because of sin, we all deserve death and not just the physical death, but eternal death.

What are the steps to salvation?
There are no steps.  It’s not like Islam with the 5 steps to follow or like the Catholics with the 7 sacraments.  There is only one step.  It is very simple – believe in Jesus.  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”Acts 16:31

What is the gospel?
It is the good news that God saves sinners.  God provided a way for man’s redemption.  “By this gospel you are saved …. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day…”1 Cor. 15:4

How does believing in Jesus save me?
Isa 53:5 He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
John 5:24  “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” Romans 5:8-9  But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”
1 Peter 2:24  “He Himself bore our sins” in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by His wounds you have been healed.”

How does believing in Jesus make everything ok with God and me?
John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. 18 Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
Acts 4:12  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”

How does believing in a man that died so long ago, save me?
Acts 2:22-24 “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. 24 But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” 
Romans 6:4  We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Ephesians 2:1-5  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Don’t all religions lead to the same place?
John 14:6 “ Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”  Only through believing in Jesus can you be saved.  It was by God sending His Son to His death on the cross.  If God had another way, He would have done it.

How good do I need to be for God to save me?
We are not good. Only God can be called good.  
Eph 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags”

Why do I need to repent? I’m not that bad. Don’t all good people go to heaven?
No one is perfect.  Only Jesus is without sin.
Romans 3:23  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
1 John 1:8-10  “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word is not in us.”
 Isa 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isn’t it all about the good work that I do?
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

When I was baptized as a baby, did that save me?
It is a personal decision everyone must make for themselves.  Being baptized or christened as a baby is only a promise by parents to bring the child up in the right way.
Romans 6:23 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Why is it all up to God?
God is the Creator of all.
Psalm 100:3 Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”
Acts 17:24-31 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in Him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring. “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead.”

Can I lose my salvation?
If you truly believe, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit.  Once we are sealed we are His and nothing can change that.
Ephesians 1:13-14  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”
Now that I believe what do I do?
Tell God you are sorry for your sins, repent of those sins, and accept Jesus as your Savior believing He died on the cross for you.  Then be baptized in obedience to the Lord Jesus as a public testimony of your salvation.  And of course you want to start reading your Bible and talk with God daily.
1 John 1:9
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Acts 2:38-39 – “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Can it be that simple?
It’s hard to believe it’s that simple, but it is.  Don’t trust your feelings.  They change.  Stand on God’s promises.  They never change.

How do I know my prayer worked?
This is His promise and He is faithful and keeps His promises.
John 1:12-13 Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Romans 10:9  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:13  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

After I accept Jesus, how does God see me?
He sees you as righteous and all you sins are forgotten.  “.. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”Ps. 103:12
Col 1:21-22 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation”
Romans 5:1  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Will there be a chance for those who die to accept Jesus when they are standing before Him at His judgment throne?
No.  Once you die it is over and there are no more chances.  Jesus gives us many chances in life, because He wants no one to perish.  It is up to each person to choose before he dies.
Hebrews 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,”

I hope this has answered some of your questions and will help you be prepared when asked about salvation.  Thanks for stopping by.  I hope to see you here next time.  __________________________________________

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