HOW HARD AM I SUPPOSED TO “TRY” TO BE A GOOD CHRISTIAN?

There are two perspectives of faith in and relationship with God: God’s and ours. They are both valid, but different. From His (the eternal) perspective I either know Him or I don’t — Either, OR! From the human/temporal perspective, “knowing Him” is a “growth” process. However, participating in the process is NOT about our “performance” in TRYING to be a “good Christian”! That’s RELIGION NOT FAITH!

I shake my head when I hear or read about those who “teach” that I don’t have to “do” anything to be saved but believe, yet talk about “being the best Christian I can be” (whatever that means). Really? How does one do that? The most literal definition of “Christian” is “Christ-like.” So is “trying to be a better Christian” defined by some percentage of my life that is like Christ — versus the “part” of me that is not like Christ? Not from a Biblical basis!

Christ is Christ, wholly, fully, truly. He is PERFECTION! He is the I AM God made known to mankind; the One True and Living God made visible for eternity! Paul said that Christ is the fullness of God, and that all of the wisdom, knowledge, understanding, etc. of God is in Him (Colossians 1&2). No part of Christ is less than all that He was, is, and will be. IF the “goal” of my faith is to be “Christ-like,” then how do I determine to what degree I have “achieved” that goal? I can’t! It is impossible to be truly “like Christ”!

Furthermore, “TRYING” to be a “good Christian” IS actually SUPPOSED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE! Why? How else am I going to find out, confront, and finally truthfully confess that in me, that is in my flesh dwells NO GOOD THING? (Romans 7:18). From that perspective then, FAILURE is my “friend” — but ONLY IF it brings me to the complete end of myself and my “goodness,” so that I will finally cast myself FULLY upon JESUS and confess that “without” Him, I can do NOTHING! (John 15:5)

Therefore, according to Paul, the “goal” of our faith is NOT to be “like” Christ at all! Faith’s Biblical “goal” for us is to completely DIE out to ourselves and allow Christ Himself to be fully Who and What He is IN and THROUGH us!

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST [HIMSELF] LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

NO LONGER MY LIFE, BUT HIS LIFE!

I am NOT supposed to “TRY” to be more like Christ! I am supposed to DIE — to myself, my flesh, my will, my likes and dislikes, my opinions, etc., etc., etc. By doing THAT, Christ Himself can then live IN me and fully be Himself THROUGH ME! Nothing else is “enough.” NOTHING! This is God’s perspective.

Jesus said it this way in Luke 9:23-24, “If any man will come after me [“be my disciple”], let him deny [Greek = “disavow ownership of”] himself, and take up his cross DAILY, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”

However, very few “believers” have actually arrived at that place — YET! Until then, we walk with Him daily; we humbly confess our failures daily; we communicate with Him daily (that’s called “prayer”); and we acknowledge that we are NOT fully what His Word declares for us to be, BUT that by His Love, Word, Spirit, Name, Blood, power, etc. working in us daily, we are progressing towards the day that we can trust Him to trust us to be truly crucified with Him!

Philippians 2:12-13
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 FOR IT IS GOD WHICH WORKETH IN YOU BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO OF HIS GOOD PLEASURE.

Philippians 2:13 (Amplified Version)
13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

As long as I don’t “SETTLE” for being less than fully given over to Christ, The Father in His Love, Grace and Mercy will continue to be longsuffering and patient with me as I “grow in grace and in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”! (2 Peter 3:18).

We are called to “surrender” to Christ NOT “surrender” to our flesh. We may sometimes “fail” in our faith at times during our day and have to face afresh and anew that we are not fully surrendered or submitted to Christ (the WORD made flesh – John 1:1,14) — inside and/or in our actions — and we will then need to confess and repent of our sins — AGAIN. However, we must never forget that the availability of forgiveness does NOT justify/excuse us giving ourselves over to habitual sinning.

It is a tragedy — both here and in eternity — for preachers to “give” people a “license to sin.” Paul emphatically declared in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? GOD FORBID. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

In continuing this thought, Paul clearly taught that we believers should not/must not give ourselves over to sin (and to a “life-style” of sin). Why? Because we are DEAD (through Christ) to sin through salvation.

Romans 6:3-11
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

THIS IS THE WORK OF GRACE IN US! This is what Christ did for us and made available to us. This is the “goal” of our faith. The fact that We are not yet consistently living our daily lives by walking according to these spiritual principles NEVER excuses us when we “settle” for less than what they have proclaimed to us. NEVER!

BIBLICAL MERCY AND GRACE IS THIS: IT IS NEVER OK TO SIN — NEVER — BUT GOD’S LOVE NEVER GIVES UP ON US AS LONG AS WE DON’T SETTLE FOR LIVING THE SAME LIFE/LIFE-STYLE OF THE UNBELIEVER AND FALSELY CALLING IT “SALVATION”!

2 Corinthians 5:14-17
14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I don’t know the original author of this statement, but I close with it here:
GOD LOVES US LIKE WE ARE, BUT HE LOVES US TOO MUCH TO LEAVE US LIKE WE ARE! AMEN!

HOW TO GUARANTEE THAT YOUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED!

HOW TO GUARANTEE THAT YOUR PRAYERS WILL BE ANSWERED!

The idea, conscious or subconscious, that God can’t or won’t speak to us about any subject that we didn’t bring up first is sad at best and ludicrous at worst.

If we will just cast all our cares, seek peace in our minds, hearts, and spirits, then the Father will speak to us about what is important to HIM!

When we are cluttered inside with “stuff,” we cannot hear His still small voice! AGAIN, we MUST cast ALL of our cares on Him, get neutral before the Father, and He WILL speak to us!

What’s more important to you, what you want to say to God or what He wants to say to you?

Since Biblical Prayer is communication with the Father and true communication is two-way, then true prayer is just as much listening as it is talking.

Prayer is not a debate over what we want versus what God wants. Neither is it a negotiation! True prayer is founded upon seeking the Will of the Father and having His Peace within. Until I know His Will and have peace in my heart and mind, how can I talk to Him about anything else?

If we can’t have “peace” unless we get our way with God, then we will NEVER truly have peace! AND Faith does not work in the hearts of the frantic!

OUR FATHER KNOWS BEST! His priority is eternity first, the temporal second! If that is not our priority, then we are out of step with God!

HERE IS HOW TO GUARANTEE ANSWERS TO YOUR PRAYERS!

1 John 3:18-24
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, BECAUSE WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, AND DO THOSE THINGS THAT ARE PLEASING IN HIS SIGHT.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24 And he that KEEPETH HIS COMMANDMENTS dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, BY the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 John 5:14-15
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing ACCORDING TO HIS WILL [NOT OUR WILL], he heareth us:
15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. [Why? Because our petitions are HIS WILL and not our own!]

THE FOLLOWING IS GOD’S PRIORITY, IS IT YOURS?

Colossians 3:1-4
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

GOD ALWAYS ANSWERS THE PRAYERS PRAYED BY THOSE WHOSE PRIORITIES ARE IN ALIGNMENT WITH HIS PRIORITIES! ALWAYS!

AGAIN, OUR FATHER KNOWS BEST! His priority is eternity first, the temporal second! If that is not our priority, then we are out of step with God! Prayers prayed by those who are not in step with God do not get answered the way “we want”!

Preach The Word!

PROVIDED FOR THOSE WHO ARE PATIENT ENOUGH TO READ AND HEED:

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:2 (Wuest Word Studies)
(4:2) The charge is to preach the Word. The English word “preach” brings to our mind at once the picture of the ordained clergyman standing in his pulpit on the Lord’s Day ministering the Word. But the Greek word here (kerusso) left quite a different impression with Timothy. At once it called to his mind the Imperial Herald, spokesman of the Emperor, proclaiming in a formal, grave, and authoritative manner which must be listened to, the message which the Emperor gave him to announce. It brought before him the picture of the town official who would make a proclamation in a public gathering. The word is in a construction which makes it a summary command to be obeyed at once. It is a sharp command as in military language. This should be the pattern for the preacher today. His preaching should be characterized by that dignity which comes from the consciousness of the fact that he is an official herald of the King of kings. It should be accompanied by that note of authority which will command the respect, careful attention, and proper reaction of the listeners. There is no place for clowning in the pulpit of Jesus Christ.
Timothy is to preach the Word. The word “Word” here refers to the whole body of revealed truth, as will be seen by comparing this passage with I Thessalonians 1:6 and Galatians 6:6. The preacher must present, not book reviews, not politics, not economics, not current topics of the day, not a philosophy of life denying the Bible and based upon unproven theories of science, but the Word. The preacher as a herald cannot choose his message. He is given a message to proclaim by his Sovereign. If he will not proclaim that, let him step down from his exalted position.
He is to be instant in season and out of season in this proclamation. The words, “be instant” are from a word which means “to stand by, be present, to be at hand, to be ready” (epistemi). The exhortation is for the preacher to hold himself in constant readiness to proclaim the Word. The words, “in season,” are from a word which means “opportune” (eukairos), “out of season,” from a word which means “inopportune” (akairos). The preacher is to proclaim the Word when the time is auspicious, favorable, opportune, and also when the circumstances seem unfavorable. So few times are still available for preaching that the preacher must take every chance he has to preach the Word. There is no closed season for preaching.
In his preaching he is to include reproof and rebuke. The Greek word translated “reprove” (elegcho), speaks of a rebuke which results in the person’s confession of his guilt, or if not his confession, in his conviction of sin. The preacher is to deal with sin, both in the lives of his unsaved hearers and in those of the saints to whom he ministers, and he is to do it in no uncertain tones. The word “sin” is not enough in the vocabulary of our preaching today. And as he deals with the sin that confronts him as he preaches, he is to expect results, the salvation of the lost and the sanctification of the saints.
The word “rebuke” (epitimao) refers to a rebuke which does not bring the one rebuked to a conviction of any fault on his part. It might be because the one rebuked is innocent of the charge, or that he is guilty but refuses to acknowledge his guilt. This word implies a sharp, severe rebuke with possibly a suggestion in some cases, of impending penalty. Even where the preacher has experienced failure after failure in bringing sinners or saints to forsake their sin, or where there seems little hope of so doing, yet he is to sharply rebuke sin. He has discharged his duty, and the responsibility is upon his hearers to deal with the sin in their lives.
Not only is he to speak in stern language against sin, but he is to exhort. The word “exhort” (parakaleo) has in it the ideas of “please, I beg of you, I urge you.” Thus, there is to be a mingling of severity and gentleness in his preaching. He is to exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. The word “longsuffering” (makrothumia) speaks of that temper which does not easily succumb under suffering, of that self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong. The word “doctrine” (didache) is in the Greek, literally, “teaching.” It speaks of instruction. Vincent says in this connection: “Longsuffering is to be maintained against the temptations to anger presented by the obstinacy and perverseness of certain hearers; and such is to be met, not merely with rebuke, but also with sound and reasonable instruction in the truth.” Calvin says: “Those who are strong only in fervor and sharpness, but are not fortified with solid doctrine, weary themselves in their vigorous efforts, make a great noise, rave…make no headway because they build without a foundation.” Or, as Vincent says, “Men will not be won to the truth by scolding,” and then quotes another as saying, “They should understand what they hear, and learn to perceive why they are rebuked.”

Wuest’s Translation: Make a public proclamation of the Word with such formality, gravity, and authority as must be heeded. Hold yourself in readiness for this proclamation when opportunity presents itself and when it does not; reprove so as to bring forth conviction and confession of guilt; rebuke sharply, severely, and with a suggestion of impending penalty. Pleadingly exhort, doing all this with that utmost self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong, and accompany this exhortation with the most painstaking instruction.

DOESN’T SOUND MUCH LIKE TODAY’S IDEA OF PREACHING DOES IT?

What Day Did The Lord Make?

WHAT DAY DID THE LORD MAKE?

Psalms 118:21-24
21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

THE “STONE” WHICH WAS REJECTED IS THE MESSIAH, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!

Acs 4:9-12
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

THEREFORE THE “DAY” THAT THE LORD HAS MADE IS THE DAY OF THE CHRIST (THE MESSIAH), WHICH IS THE “DAY OF SALVATION”!

HOWEVER, AS IT WAS THEN, SO IT IS NOW — MEN REJECTING HIM, BECAUSE THEY ARE OFFENDED BY THE FACT THAT GOD EXPECTS THEM TO BELIEVE AND CHOOSE TO OBEY HIM.

1 Peter 2:4-8
4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

BUT THOSE WHO BELIEVE HIM AND IN HIM ALWAYS CHOOSE TO OBEY AND PLEASE GOD RATHER THAN SUBMITTING TO THE OPINIONS OF MEN!

Acts 5:27-32
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

WHICH “SIDE” ARE YOU ON: HIS OR THE WORLD’S?

TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION! ARE YOU CHOOSING THE SAVIOR AND REJOICING — OR ARE YOU JOINING THE REJECTORS! THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND!