Abiding in the Word

"Let that therefore abide in you which you have heard from the beginning.  If that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in  you, you also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father"  I John 2:24 Far too many of us in the Western church have thought that if we only understand the truth, that is enough.  After all, doesn't the Bible say that we would know the truth and that knowing the truth would set us free?  Yes, that is indeed what the Bible says.  But when the Bible speaks of knowing the truth, it means far more by the word know than most people understand.  What is in view is not a casual knowledge of the truth, but an intimate, life-changing commitment to obey the truth.  This is a deep, personal knowledge which impacts every area of our life.  Unless we know the truth in this way, we will never experience the life-changing power of the truth. In the above verse, John sets forth the key to everything for the Christian, and it begins with the Word abiding in [Read more...]

How to Know that we Know God

We live in the information age.  Never before in history has the increase of knowledge been so rapid.  For thousands of years of human history we only added to our knowledge.  Today, knowledge multiplies.  We used to measure the doubling of knowledge in centuries.  Now we measure it in months.  We are all traveling on the information highway and at breakneck speed. Having so much knowledge available to us is a wonderful thing.  But there is an area of knowledge that is much more wonderful and far more important than anything else we might seek to know.  And that is how do you know that you know God.  The truth of the Scripture is that we can know! John tells us "we know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands."  The real litmus test is that we obey Him.  Obedience is essential for the Christian life.  By obedience we can know for sure that we know Him. Many people evaluate their Christian life based on their experiences they have with God.  But experiences are [Read more...]

Christ: The Source of True Joy

"And these things write we unto you, that  your joy may be full"  (I John 1:4).  According to the Declaration of Independence all men are endowed with the unalienable right to pursue happiness.  The problem however, with pursuing happiness is that you have to catch it.  And this proves easier said than done. There is a good reason why people have trouble discovering true and lasting happiness.  Happiness depends on what happens.  Happiness is linked to our circumstances.  When things are going great, then I am happy.  When things take a turn for the worst, then my happiness evaporates.  What people really want is a happiness that lasts.  People desire a happiness that doesn't depend on happenstance.  But, does such a thing exist? Such a thing does exist.  But it is not called happiness.  In fact, we find this thing on the pages of the Bible.  There we see a better alternative to happiness in what the Bible calls joy.  Joy, unlike happiness, does not depend upon my situation in [Read more...]

An Abundance of Joy

If there is one thing that is clear, it is that there is a poverty of joy everywhere.  Certainly in the world we see this poverty of joy.  We all no doubt know people who suffer from an inability to find anything positive in life.  For them, life is merely an existence.  Everyday is filled with drudgery.  And it is a tragedy.  It's a tragedy because life doesn't have to be like that. But, even in the church we find a poverty of joy.  Now this is really tragic.  The church ought to be a place where joy abounds.  Sadly, this is often not the case. Christianity does not have to suffer from a poverty of joy because God has given us a promise of joy.  In John 15:11 we read, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete."  Here Jesus is telling us that His joy would be in us and make our joy full. Jesus came to give us life, but it was a certain kind of life that He came to give us.  He came to give us eternal life, but He also came to give us [Read more...]

Christmas: God’s Perfect Timing

In the Bible we find that God always acts according to His own timetable.  And sometimes God's timetable and our own are in conflict.  We often desire that God would act, and act right now; when in God's wisdom, He chooses to delay for our good.  But there is a real truth in the saying that God is never late.  He who created the universe and who sees the end from the beginning, who is, in Himself, all wisdom and knowledge, works all things out perfectly at the right time.  It may not be "in our time," but it is always "in His time." Christmas reminds us of the fact that God always works according to a divine timetable and it is always perfect.  We are told in Galatians 4:4 that "when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son..."  That is an amazing statement.  There was one time in all of history when all things were perfectly in line for the first coming of Jesus.  God planned it, God orchestrated it, and God brought it to pass. The working of God in preparing the [Read more...]

An Encouraging Reminder this Election Season

Recently during my Bible reading time I was directed to Psalm 33.  In verses 10 - 12 we are reminded that "The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing: He makes the plans of the people of no effect.  The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord..." Proud man is convinced that he is steering the course of history.  He believes himself to be accomplishing his own agenda.  But the Bible is clear that God sets up and takes down the most powerful of rulers for His own sovereign purposes.  Whether it was Pharaoh, Nebuchadnessar, Cyrus, or Artaxerxes, God used them to further His purposes for His chosen people.  Of course, none of those men knew God or were seeking to follow God.  They were making decisions that they thought would further their own agendas.  But behind the scenes, God providentially used their decisions to further His agenda.  They were responsible for their decisions, yet God [Read more...]

Are we in Sync with God?

"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion..." (Amos 6:1).  Amos speaks here to the people of God concerning the danger of growing apathetic in our commitment to God.  Then he brings this charge against them: "but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph."   In Amos' day this charge meant that Israel was unconcerned about the fate of their brethren in the South.  God was concerned.  His heart was broken.  But their heart was unmoved.  They were out of "sync" with the heart of God. If we would apply this to ourselves, we must ask a very pointed question.  Are our hearts in "sync" with the heart of God?  Are we moved by the things that move Him?  Are we people who care about the things God cares about?  Is our passion His passion? That should then lead us to another question.  What is God passionate about?  His passion is people.  He reached out to us when we were without hope and poured out His grace upon us.  This is why Jesus came and lived and died.  We must realize that true [Read more...]

Beware of Traditions

As summer draws to a close we are faced with the reality of the routine.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  Routines can simplify life somewhat and make us feel more comfortable.  But sometimes we allow certain routines to become full-fledged traditions.  By that I mean they take on significance far greater than simply being a convenient routine.  In fact, some things become almost holy and unchangeable.  When those things are tinkered with, people become very upset.  It is as if we have willfully flaunted a commandment of the Lord when we tamper with those things. But what is the ultimate test of tradition?  Well, Christianity is first and foremost a matter of the heart.  Jesus is after a transformation of the inner man.  He cares more about our heart condition than the observance of religious tradition.  So we might say that the ultimate test of tradition is "Does it deal with our heart trouble?" When traditions are established which assist us in knowing God and communing [Read more...]

Exchanging our Strength for His

Scripture is filled with wonderful promises and one of my favorites would have to be one provided by the prophet Isaiah.  In Isaiah 40:30, 31 we read: "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." The promise to those who wait upon the Lord is that they shall "gain new strength."  Literally, it means that those who wait upon the Lord shall "change" or "exchange" their strength.  The idea is that as we draw near to God, waiting upon Him expectantly in faith, trusting Him as our resource, that He will then impart to us His strength.  The truth is that our strength runs out.  What we need is new strength, and that's exactly the promise that's made to us.  We will "gain new strength."  We will exchange our strength for His.  What an exchange it is! But look at the impact that [Read more...]

Shine as Lights in the World

God has created us to reflect His glory.  Paul tells us in Philippians 2:15 that we are to "shine as lights in the world."  It is important to note where we are to shine.  Too many Christians think that the place they are to shine is in the church.  They must think this because that is the only place that they make any effort to shine.  But we are to shine where it is darkest.  We are to shine in the world. The world is often referred to as a dark place.  Here in our verse in Philippians Paul describes it as a "crooked and perverse nation."  We are crooked and perverse in many ways.  Good is called evil and evil is called good.  Satan now rules in the hearts of men and women.  This world can be a dark place indeed. But God has delivered us from this darkness.  He has set us free.  We have been delivered from the world but we have not been taken out of the world.  As those who have been delivered from the world, we are now to shine in the midst of the darkness.  God has left us [Read more...]

Genuine Christianity

As mentioned in my last post, the general attitude in our society is turning more negative toward Christianity.  No doubt the devil is at work to encourage those who are not Christians to portray Christianity in a negative light.  More often than not, the media coverage directed toward Christians focuses on some person or ministry that is either extreme or corrupt.  Rarely is there a story that shows the positive impact of a Christian or a Christian ministry.  Even when the media focuses on the triumph of the human spirit, rarely does it ever focus on the value of faith as a positive force in society. Of course another reason why Christianity is often portrayed in a negative light is that there is a lot of stuff out there that passes for Christianity that is not Christianity at all.  To put it bluntly, there is a lot of phony Christianity.  There are those who are deceived and are deceiving others.  There are those trusting in rituals and church membership.  There are those claiming [Read more...]

Standing Upon The Word of Truth

To stand upon the truth of God's Word is to invite opposition.  Paul refers to this in his letter to the believers at Philippi.  After exhorting them to "stand fast in one spirit...striving together for the faith of the gospel," he warns them of "those who oppose you" (Phil. 1:27-28).  It is important for us to understand that we will have opposition. We should not be surprised by this.  Our culture is fast becoming anti-Christ and anti-Christian.  The same people who preach toleration for all points of view are the most intolerant when Christians begin to state their views.  Apparently, the only views they want to tolerate are those with which they agree.  Any views that claim that there are absolute truths are extremest and full of hate and are not to be tolerated.  And as we take a stand against this mindset, we will come under attack. Paul told the Philippians that he wanted them to stand for the truth "without being frightened in any way by those who oppose."  There really [Read more...]

Too Good To Be True – And Yet True!

Have you ever received good news and at first refused to believe it?  With all the mailings and emails we receive telling us we've won millions of dollars, we've all become a bit skeptical.  This morning I received a phone call from someone claiming to be a representative from Publishers Clearing House.  Supposedly I had won 1.5 million dollars and a 2016 Mercedes.  It didn't take long to realize I was being scammed.  The real clue was when he told me the funds could not be released until I paid the IRS.  Oh well!  Who needs 1.5 million anyway?  The news was simply too good to be true. The disciples were caught in the too good to be true syndrome when it came to the news of Christ's resurrection.  Their first response to the reports and evidence pointing to the resurrection was disbelief.  First, the women came telling them that the tomb was empty and that they had seen the risen Lord.  "Nonsense" they said (Luke 24:11).  Then the Lord appeared to the two men on the road to Emmaus. [Read more...]

Resurrection Life

Part of living is dealing with pain.  As we grow older our bodies begin to deteriorate in the natural process of aging.  Ultimately all of us are going to have to face the fact that we will grow old and eventually we will die. For the Christian, however, there is good news.  The good news is that although we cannot do anything about the fact that we grow old and die in this life, one day we will be raised from the dead.  In this resurrection we will receive a body that will be made for the eternal realm.  It will be a glorious, powerful, eternal and spiritual body like the body Jesus has.  This changes everything.  This gives us hope. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we now have the assurance that death is not the end of life.  We don't really die.  Our bodies do, but our spirits are translated into God's presence.  But that is not it.  For the Bible teaches that one day our very bodies shall be raised again (I Cor. 15:35-49).  To each of us God will give us a new [Read more...]

Christianity is about Transformation

I suspect there are times that all of us would like a change for the better.  We realize that we have not yet arrived at the place where we want to be.  We are still on the journey. But while we are not what we want to ultimately be, we are not what we were either.  We are on the way.  We have made some progress.  And this should give us great hope.  We are being transformed more and more each day as we follow Christ.  This is the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ working within our lives.  Christianity is all about transformation.  Christianity is all about change.  It we are not changing then we are not living.  God has begun a great work in our lives, and He will continue to carry on that work until completion.  And one day God will bring His work to fulfillment in our lives as we see Him face to face. This is the blessed hope for the Christian.  We look toward that great day of Christ's return.  It will be a day of great transformation for us.  God's purpose for our lives [Read more...]