I Hope So

1 John 5:13-21: Do you hope you will go to heaven when you die? Many denominations and other religions teach their followers that we can hope to go to heaven by doing enough good things, say enough prayers, or even martyr themselves. Even then they can not know for sure that they will spend eternity with Paradise with God. As believers God did not want us to have to be anxious about this. He wanted us to know for certain. That is why in 1 John 5 He writes

1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Look at the verse again. How do you know you have eternal life? “You who believe in the name of the Son of God” have eternal life. You may be saying then how do I do that. You acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God and that He came and lived a perfect life and gave Himself to die on the cross for your sin. Ask Him to forgive the sin you have committed and ask Him to become the Lord of your life. Then walk according to His commands. It is not a doing enough good thing. The obedience to the commands is not what saves you. Giving your life over to Him does. That is why you can relax and live in a love relationship with Him and do what He says is best because you trust Him to lead you in the right ways.

You read stories every day of people who died unexpectedly. I always wonder if they had a relationship with Jesus. Many know the truths we have talked about today but think “I will get around to it one day.” Some never have that opportunity because of a tragic loss of life. Oh that you would not wait. I pray you will start this Jesus life now and know the abundance of life in Him. It is not just about Heaven one day, but about fullness of life here now. Don’t delay, know for sure.

This is Love

1 John 4 has to be one of my most treasured chapters. It reminds us of how Great God’s love for us really is.

10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Jesus was the payment for my wrong doing. God loved me enough to give His Son as my payment. How great a love is that!

Now what is my response to this great love? To love others as He has loved me.

11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

Though no one has seen God will human eyes, they see a icon of Him in us daily if we live in the love of God treating others with that same love. What a challenge and yet what a blessed responsibility. Here is your assignment over this Thanksgiving week, respond in love no matter what comes your way. Love as Jesus did. Yes that may mean you choose not to get your feeling hurt or speak back with the same terse tone someone spoke to you in. It may mean forgiving even before asked. No matter what comes your way, as you respond in love others will see a reflection of God in you.

I Am A Winner

1 John 4:1-6: I love watching a winning college football team. I graduated from a school that wins often, but my children graduated from Alabama. Having invested much money there it is not unusual for me to pull for Bama on any given Saturday. It also helps that they are usually winning. lol. When I think about ball teams that have a long winning tradition, it seems as though they expect to always win. Even in games where they are behind to the very end they find a way of winning because their mindset is that of a winner. They Expect to win!
As a believer we too are winners. Listen to how 1 John puts it

4 “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

We are winners not because of our own perfection or even our own mindset. We are winners because of who indwells us! the Bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. He abides in us. He teaches us truth. He guides and directs. He comforts and encourages. He convicts us of sin. We have the winner inside of us, because through the resurrection God defeated sin and death. Therefore we can walk with confidence and purpose. We will overcome! Glory to God! No weapon formed against you will win. The devil has already been defeated. WE just need to follow the leader within us. I am a champion in God’s Army!

Even as I write I can hear the voices of the children in Swaziland as they sing, “I am a winner in God’s army.” Yes little ones you are and so am I.

Words Hurt

Job 15:1-16: In our reading in Job today I was almost embarrassed for them. They sounded like school children bantering back and forth.

2 “Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge”,
3 “Should he argue in unprofitable talk,
or in words with which he can do no good?”

On and on this “friend” of Job laid into him telling him that the bad things that had happened was because of his reluctance to admit his sin. How sad it is when we are believers hurt each other with our tongues even when we justify it by saying we are helping them. There is constructive conversation that can help others, but it is always done in love, not anger or hurt. It attacks the problem never the person. It leads them back to the Lover of their Soul even when they don’t want to face Him. Our conversation should be filled with kindness, gentleness, and spoken under control.

When encouraging someone who has left the path remember they may not even see where they are wandering far away. The best thing to do is pray first. Pray for their eyes to be opened. Pray for the right timing to speak. Pray for the right words when the time is right. Pray for a receptive heart when the words are said. Pray for desire to stick with their commitment when they do make needed change. Pray that their strongholds will fall and they will be ready to come back into the fold.

Until they do, hold your words carefully and release any hateful words spoken by others. Sometimes the older we get words are the only weapon we have to fight with and some use them carelessly. Don’t let their hurtful words hold. you captive. Forgive as you would want to be forgiven.

What the World Needs

1 John 3:11-18: Years ago there was a song that said, “What the world needs now is love sweet love, its the only thing that there’s just too little of.” There is much truth to that! 1 John 3 says it like this,

11 “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

John then references Cain and his lack of love. the Bible also says in Genesis that God told Cain, sin is crouching at your door. I can just see it as a lion waiting to pounce! It is no different in our lives. As we are doing life daily if we don’t guard our hearts with love the enemy is crouching waiting to pounce on us. As we being the Thanksgiving week I ask that we all guard our hearts with love. When gathering with family it can sometimes be stressful. Guard your heart with love. Overlook offenses spoken or done. Choose to forgive the memories of the past. Choose to believe the best in people. It may not change them, but it will always change you! “Love covers a multitude of sin!”

The Healer

John 9:13-25: Do you know people who try to make the Bible say things it doesn’t say to fit into their theology? John 9 tells the story of a man born blind. Jesus heals him by making a mud mask for his eye and telling him to go and wash. When he does the man can see. The Pharisees were livid that Jesus would heal on the Sabbath. The man was thrilled he could see. The Pharisees tried to play it off like the man had not been blind but the man’s parents confirmed he had been blind from birth. The Pharisees had asked who healed him. All the blind now seeing man knew is that it was Jesus. How he did not know but all he knew was that he could see. Again the Pharisees wanting to catch Jesus in something called Him a sinner for healing on the sabbath. I love the man’s response,

9: 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

Many of us might share the same testimony. We don’t know all of who Jesus is. We can’t make others understand Him or even defend Him to those who have predisposed agendas. All we know is that once we were spiritually blind and now we see. Our testimony of healing may not change the mind of those who just want to argue, but for those who know us and know who we once were and now see a difference in us they believe in the power of the One who heals. May we all live today as Spiritually Seeing souls sharing the message of our Healer.

What did I do Wrong?

John 9:1-12: When bad things happen to someone are you tempted to ask what they did wrong that such bad would happen to them? That is exactly what happened in John 9. A man was blind from birth and the question was asked, “Who sinned the man or his parents?” Jesus’ response was neither of them, but that the blindness came so that people would see the glory of God. Our minds struggle to comprehend such answers. Even when Lazarus was raised from the dead much heartache had come to his family and friends, but when he was brought back to life it was so that the crowd of unbelievers could see the glory of God revealed and many believed.

When we are going through hard times we may be asking the same question, “what did I do wrong?” It may be that God just wants to do something really big in your life and allow others to see His power at work within you. Job’s life is a great example of this. The lesson we learn from him is to keep living according to God’s plan even when things don’t go right. In time He will rebuild, restore and renew you.

If you are in a hard time today, take time to pray and know the comfort of the Father. Acknowledge Him and His ways and remind Him that you trust Him even when things don’t go the way you want. Then thank Him that by being faithful and walking right in Him even though this difficult time you can be thankful others will see His glory revealed in you.

God’s Timing

2 Peter 3:1-9: Do you ever feel like God is late? Do you feel like sometimes He may not show up at all? If this describes you, you are in good company. The people in Peter’s day thought the same thing. They were expecting the second coming at any time. When years passed on and Jesus did not return they began to doubt He would. Some even thought He already had and they had missed it.
Our timing is not like God’s timing. Peter says it well. 2 Peter 3:8 “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
His patience is because He desires ALL to come to repentance. He desires that NONE should perish. I remember one day when it had been a hard week I was having a meal with two of our children. I said, I just wish Jesus would come back today. One of children said NO!!! Mom if He came back today think of how many people would not know Jesus. I know the truth that there are many that will never come to Him, but I sure understand too that the longer He delays, the more likely more will come to faith in Christ. So, until then I am doing my job to tell. I love for His return and for many to come to faith in Him. I am grateful His timing allowed me to be saved!

Backslidden

2 Peter 2:17-22: Back in the old days you would hear the word backslidden to describe people who at one time walked the way of a follower of Jesus but over time they fell back into their old life. We would have revivals and people would come forward to say, I have backslidden and I am ready to get my life right with the Lord. Here is what 2 Peter says about people who walk away

2:20 “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”

As a Christ follower we know the lure of sin and the judgement that it brings. We know the freedom we have in Christ and the peace that it brings. Why would one want to leave peace to run to judgement and guilt. The lure of the world is strong. The enemy doesn’t play fair. As a believer we must be on guard. Resist the devil in the name of Jesus. Resist the lure of what goes down smooth but in the end bites. Know that your Father loves you and has a plan for your life. That plan is for good, not evil and He longs for all of us to make the right choice.

Praying each of us will take an account of our heart and actions. Praying we will stand right before the Lord. As I said to a woman yesterday I pray the Lord returns at any minute and finds me being faithful. May that be your prayer too.

When the Bottom Drops Out

Job 1- 2: Reading Job’s story can be so overwhelming and yet so humbling as well. Many things have stand out. First, the fact that Satan has to ask for permission before he can touch any of God’s children. I am so grateful to know that nothing can touch me without the Father giving permission and He will set limits. I am also thankful that even in the hardest of times God stands by me. God was constantly by Job and knew his character. Job expressed his sorrow and yet praised God. What a challenge to me. When things go bad, I struggle to understand. I can’t imagine if everything was taken away at once how Job could even stand. He must have been an amazing man.
Praying that when the bottom drops out or challenges come that we will persevere with the Lord with calm assurance like Job did. I know that one of the only reasons that could happen was because Job did not wait until hard times to grow in his relationship with God. He was already faithful, that is why God knew how Job would respond to severe trials. May our faith grow daily so that when trials come we know the strength and the power of God in our lives to withstand what comes our way. May we also have true friends who honor the Lord and know the truths of His word that will walk beside us.