“I’m Saved! Now What?”

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:23) As Christians our new birth is something that we should never get tired of. We ought to praise God continually for the fact of our salvation. But we should also realize that there is more in store for the Christian following the new birth. God has something in mind for us. We are saved with a clear purpose in view. What God has in store for us can be summed up in a word. That word is sanctification. Sanctification simply means that we are caused to be holy. It carries the idea of being set apart by God for His use.   God has saved us with this as His ongoing purpose. It is not only God’s desire to sanctify us; it is His desire to sanctify us through and through. As Paul puts it, God desires to “sanctify you wholly.” The Greek word means quite completely, entirely or perfectly. The above verse [Read more...]

Seeing Beyond our Circumstances

Paul shares with us the secret to contentment in Philippians 4:11-13. Paul said that whatever our circumstances he had learned to be content. How did he do this? Was he not paying attention? Was he in self-denial? What was his secret? I believe that Paul saw more than just the outward circumstances. I think he saw through the circumstances. Paul knew that God was sovereign, that He was in control. He knew that he could trust Him.   He knew that God was at work in the midst of even the most trying circumstances to perfect His purposes in his life. When we look at the circumstances of our lives, what do we see? Some circumstances are good. Some are bad. I’m not implying that everything that happens to you is good. The Scriptures nowhere teach that. But they do teach that God is at work in every situation, good and bad, for our benefit. In other words, He can take even a bad situation and build some good thing into our lives. So, before you label something good or bad, ask yourself [Read more...]

What is truth?

"What is truth?"  That question was asked of Jesus by Pilate in the course of Pilate's interrogation of Jesus during His mock trial.  It's a pretty good question and one that we all do well to answer correctly.  We live in a day where truth is relative.  You have your truth and I have mine.  Your truth may work for you but that doesn't mean that it has to work for me.  Is that the best we can hope for where truth is concerned?  Not if we are seeking the truth according to God's revelation of it. The fact of the matter is Jesus had previously answered Pilate's question.  He puts it this way: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, except by me" (John 14:6).  Jesus is the embodiment of truth.  The problem lies in the fact that for many, the truth revealed by Jesus is an inconvenient truth.  The truth that Jesus brings is a narrow truth, a restrictive truth.  It is the truth that He is the only means by which sinful people can be made holy and can receive [Read more...]

The Other Son in the Parable of the Prodigal

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 does not end with the return and restoration of the wayward son.  Jesus continues the story by telling us of the response of the elder son.  This portion of the parable is directed toward the Pharisees who in the context were complaining that Jesus had been receiving and welcoming sinners.  Now Jesus is pointedly rebuking their attitude.  He drives His point home in verse 29 with the son's angry response to his father.  As Jesus tells it the son says to his father, "These many years I have served you, neither transgressed I at any time your commandment; and yet you never gave me a young goat so that I might make merry with my friends." This son pats himself on the back for his years of faithful service.  Certainly his father should treat him better than he is treating his brother.  It is apparent that he believed that the basis for obtaining his father's favor was his works.  And additionally, he has decided that the father's love can only [Read more...]

The Heart of God toward Repentant Sinners

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is given by Jesus to illustrate the heart of God toward a repentant sinner.  The prodigal rejects home, demands his inheritance and departs for a distant country where he wastes his inheritance through his living a wild, reckless lifestyle.  But in the story he eventually comes to his senses when he hits rock bottom.  It is then that he makes the decision to return to his home in hopes that his father will receive him back as one of his servants. It is at this point in the story that Jesus reveals to us the grace of the Father and how He responds toward His repentant children.  We see the father as anxiously awaiting and desiring the return of his son.  Jesus tells us that when the son was still a great way off "his father saw him and had compassion and ran" to him.  The father saw him because he was looking for him.  What Jesus wants us to realize is that when we stray from God, He anxiously desires that we would return to Him.  The father [Read more...]

Receiving answers to our prayers

John tells us in his first epistle how we can pray with confidence and know that God will grant us those things that we ask from Him (I John 5:14-16).  And it's pretty simple!  Pray in accordance to the will of God!  That sounds like a no-brainer.  But how often are we truly praying according to God's will and not our own wills.  It is very easy for us to pray our agendas to God.  To ask Him to do those things that will provide for us what we think we need to be happy, rather than pray for those things that will bring glory to Him. As an example John tells us to pray for our sinning brother.  This is the kind of praying that is in accordance to the will of God.  John places an emphasis on the spiritual needs of one another.  We tend to place the emphasis on the physical needs of one another.  Now we should pray for physical needs.  We have the scriptural support to do so.  But this should not be our primary focus when we pray.  The simple reality is we cannot know for certain [Read more...]

Finding a Solution to Anxiety

Life can be filled with anxiety.  We all have anxieties.  We worry about so many things today.  We worry about our jobs.  We worry about money.  We worry about our marriages.  We worry about our children.  We worry about the past, the present, and the future.  We worry about our retirement.  We even worry about our relationship with God. What good does worry do?  The simple answer is none - none whatsoever.  The truth is that you generally can't change what you worry about.  All your worrying is wasted.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25, "I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, what you shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" The real antidote to worry is simple: trust in God.  God loves you.  God is in control.  God wants the best for you.  You can trust Him with your life and with your fears.  So why worry?  Trust God instead! An unanxious attitude comes from faith in the [Read more...]

Life is a Journey of Faith and Obedience

The life of faith is a journey.  The exodus undertaken by Israel out of Egypt is a picture of this journey.   There we find the Israelites moving from bondage into freedom, but they do not do so happily or without constant periods of rebellion. It is amazing that God did not give up on those rebellious, faithless wanderers.  Just three days after their miraculous deliverance they murmur due to their thirst.  God provides them with water.  A month and a half later we find them murmuring again.  They were hungry.  God acts once more to meet their need.  This time with manna. There was a condition, however, regarding the manna.  They were to gather only enough for each day, and no more.  Some disobeyed and gathered more, only to find if full of maggots the next day.  On the sixth day they were to gather a double portion.  Those who didn't went out on the seventh day and found none. Isn't it interesting that with only two simple rules about gathering manna, there were still those [Read more...]

Life’s Not Fair! Praise God!

If you're a parent, no doubt you have heard the statement from your kids, "That's not fair!"  To which you no doubt sympathetically respond, "Well, life isn't fair!"  And it's true.  Life throws all kinds of unfair circumstances and situations at us. But not only is life not fair, but God is not fair either.  At least not by this understanding of fairness.  And we can be thankful for that.  You see, if God were to treat us with fairness (that is give us what we deserve) we'd be sent straight to hell.  But God treats us with grace. The fact that God deals with His children on the basis of grace without regard to merit or demerit is a staggering concept.  It is opposed to everything we have been taught about life.  We have been conditioned to think that if we work hard and "pay our dues" in life, we will be rewarded in proportion to our efforts.  And most often it's true. But God's grace does not operate on a rewards for works basis.  It is much better than that.  God is [Read more...]

We Are Truly Blest of God!

If you are a Christian, then you are the recipient of many blessings from God.   Notice what Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: God “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). We are blest, even though we often take those blessings for granted. In Philippians 2:1,2 Paul reminds the believers in Philippi just what they have in Christ. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy…” The “if” of this passage could be translated “since” in order to convey the intended meaning.   Paul was reminding them what they had received because of their relationship to Christ. They had received encouragement. They had received comfort. They had received fellowship. They had received tenderness and compassion. And so have we. Indeed, every Christian has received these things. They are benefits that come from knowing Christ. Has being accepted [Read more...]

Is Christ preeminent in your life?

In Philippians 1:20 Paul writes, "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death." It is impossible to read what Paul has to say and miss the fact that his whole life was wrapped up in Christ. He was in prison for Christ. He trusted that his deliverance (vs. 19) would come through Christ, one way or another.  His expression was that he would "in no way be ashamed" or in other words would not be disappointed. Christ was not going to let him down. Paul was focused on Christ. His chief desire was that no matter what was going on in his life, Christ would be magnified in those experiences. And what is more, he knew it would be so "whether by life or by death." This was Paul's desire. This was his passion. Just as Paul was focused on Christ so should we be. We need to yearn for the preeminence of Christ, not simply [Read more...]

Finding fulfillment in the routine of life

All of us want to experience a sense of fulfillment in life. All of us want to enjoy life and feel a sense of accomplishment and meaning. I suppose we tend to think this way as we grow older. When we are young, we just assume that our lives will accomplish great things. We dream great dreams and fully expect that one day we will reach them.  And we do accomplish many things, some we set out to accomplish and some we do not. One of the problems that we all face in our search for meaning is the problem of just how routine life is. Indeed, life is defined by the routine. Often we are tempted to think that we are not accomplishing anything significant in this routine life of ours. Sometimes we even devalue the ordinary things we do. But we should not. Everything we do has significance. Meaning and fulfillment in life do not come from doing the big things. Life is lived in the small things and in the routine things. We'll enjoy our lives more if we put the process of living in proper [Read more...]

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing

Keep your eye on the ball.  This is fundamental in sports.  When you don't keep your eye on the ball, you drop the ball.   The same is true in life.  Remember what really matters.  Keep the main thing the main thing.  If you don't you will be very unhappy. Paul understood this.  Consider how he handled the situation of those who preached Christ in a spirit of competition (Phil. 1:15,16).  Notice what he did not do. What he didn't do speaks volumes about his priorities in life.  What Paul did not do is lose focus.  He did not allow himself to become discouraged with these people trying to stir up trouble for him.  He could have easily done this. He could have allowed them to become his priority.  He could have allowed a desire for retribution to consume him.  He didn't.  He kept his eye on the ball.  He kept the main thing the main thing. Paul had some practice at this.  When he was visiting the Corinthian church he also had to keep his focus. He wrote to them about that visit and [Read more...]

A Biblical Worldview (part 2)

I my last post we considered one of the two possible worldviews we might hold to.  This first outlook on life takes the position that God is not at work in our circumstances. Life is nothing more than a series of random events. When it comes down to it, this view of life renders life meaningless Another way of looking at life is quite the opposite. This view declares that life is purposeful - that God works in the circumstances of life whether they be good or whether they be seemingly bad.  We find this view in Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."  Life isn't capricious. Life isn't meaningless. Quite the opposite in fact. Life is purposeful. God is at work. Stuff just doesn't happen.  God is at work in your circumstances for your good and His glory. This is the worldview of the Christian. This is the perspective that we must choose. And we see that it was Paul's perspective. He [Read more...]

A Biblical Worldview

Our worldview - our understanding of how life works and why it works that way - will determine the way you respond to life situations.  There are two choices concerning life that we can make. These are two perspectives on life or two worldviews. The first says that life is arbitrary - stuff just happens. In other words, life is random, capricious, where nothing has any overarching purpose. We don't know why these things happen. Sometimes it just doesn't make a lot of sense. Solomon reflected this view of life in the opening of the book of Ecclesiastes. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity" (Ecc. 1:2).   This is one view of life - that life is meaningless. This view of life does not include room for the activity of God. Indeed, there are many today who do not believe that God plays any role in our lives in any practical way. Peter wrote about these scoffers in 2 Peter 3:4:  "They will say, where is the promise of his coming? For since the [Read more...]