Who is in control?


Our government and those serving their own interests are not in control of much, particularly with regard to our society. So, who really is in control? Satan?

I know that many of you don’t really believe that he exists, but God said that he does so that settles that argument. But is he in control of all of the things which are spiralling out of control today? I don’t think I would give him that much credit. He may be influencing those who are stirring up trouble to be more violent, more destructive even, but he isn’t in control of them exactly.

IamtheWayBesides, if you have ever read the book of Job or heard a sermon from it, then you know that Satan has to get permission to do the things which he does, especially if it may harm Christians or Israel! The One Who is in Control and Who watches everything unfold in its time, is God. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people, but not without God’s permission. He knows that occasionally something has to happen if it will bring about a greater good in His Kingdom. It may cause pain for now, but in eternity the pain is taken away.

Many people seem to be searching for the Truth of God today, although some seem to be looking in the wrong places. Yes, God is still speaking through His Word, the Bible, and preachers who read and study it and then expound on His Wisdom trying to make it as understandable as possible. The message of salvation is easy enough for a child to understand but as adults we tend to make things harder than they should be. Either by not reading the instruction book, the Bible, or by adding our own ideas to those contained in it.

God doesn’t need your help or mine in order to save you. He already provided the remedy and the way of salvation for each one of us, through belief in and trust in Jesus the Christ.

Period.

No other doctrine or work needs to be applied to your life in order to be saved! There is nothing that you or I can do to get us into Heaven, Jesus did it all. Just believe in Him and His atonement for your sins, turn away from them (repent) and follow Him. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Truly, it is simple…although living your daily walk with Him is going to be hard at times. Your friends will call and ask you to come to this new bar they found or maybe go for a weekend off to the Bahamas with your fiance which you aren’t married to yet. These are the stones which can trip you up and cause you to stumble and fall.

But…if you truly have given your heart to Jesus, even if you fall, you can ask forgiveness and strength and He will give you both! Don’t turn away from Him and go back to your old life. Don’t feel the pull of the Spirit in church or after you hear a sermon on TV and then decide NOT to give your heart to Him. Remember, we are not guaranteed tomorrow so don’t back away from Him when you know you need Him!

Life and death…choose Life!


In so many ways, our world looks like this. Possibly not such a stark contrast in much of the world as this, but in other ways it is exactly like this. Many places in the world are or have been in a drought for a long, long time. In some areas, the drought is caused by man’s own mean-lifeordeathspirited streak in not tolerating others particularly in the area of religion.

Why?

Is it so hard to get along with others who don’t believe exactly the same as you do? For some, it seems to be exactly that point! Hindu’s can’t get along with Christians, Muslim’s can’t get along with Christians, Socialist and Communist countries have problems with Christians. Do you see a pattern here?

It isn’t hard to see, but it is hard to understand the reason behind it. It is true that in the distant past, Christian countries and those who followed the leader of the Church at the time, well-meaning soldiers who were charged by the Church to bring civilization and “right beliefs” to the heathen. This was not the way to bring Christ to other people, but it was done, so lets move on!

Our past, regardless of the country that you live in or the beliefs that you hold, is something that we should study, make note of so that we won’t repeat those mistakes, and then move toward a more Christ-like living arrangement. Jesus did not tell us to go and beat belief into the masses because that doesn’t work! It turns most, if not all, away from that belief in Him.

Jesus said for us to go and tell them the good news of His teachings and that He came to bring salvation to all of mankind. Jesus paid the price so that all could benefit from it, but it is your choice whether you accept it and respond when God calls you.

Matthew 28:16-20 King James Version

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

Are you sure?


 

Can you be sure of your salvation? Yes, you can. Many people seem to wonder if it is possible to be absolutely sure of your salvation and it is. If you are sincere in your repentance and your decision to follow Jesus.

Have you made that decision? Have you felt the Spirit’s call or touch upon your heart? Did you answer that call or did you do like so many, decide to wait until a better time? There is no better time.

Some doctrines claim that you can’t turn away from the call of God. These are people in our own country and in others who claim allegiance to Calvinism. Baptists are Calvinists, but there are some Calvinists who believe that there is no reason for them to call people to be converted in church, there is no reason for us to tell people about Jesus because the call of God on your life is irresistible! You cannot walk away from it without giving your life to Jesus!

I want to tell you that they are WRONG!! If one of the disciples of Jesus could walk away from the evidence laid out before him, which he saw and experienced every day for the three years of Jesus’ ministry, if you are as stubborn as he was about his life or his version of it, then you can too. If Jesus doesn’t measure up to your idea of a Savior or Lord of your life, then you will possibly turn away from Him.

Even Jesus said that on that day, when all who are on Earth will bow down that there will be many who claim Him as their Savior saying “Have we not cast out demons in your Name and healed many in your Name?” He said that He would tell them to “depart from me, I never knew you.” This is a very frightening thought, not only for them but for us as well. How do you know, without a doubt, that you are saved by Him and that you have His Spirit in your heart? Are you absolutely sure?

This is what we are searching for today…absolute assurance that we belong to Jesus! Do you have it? If not, then how can you get it?

What is a better time than today? When would be a better time than right now? We are not given a certain number of days or years to live. We wake up and we should thank God for one more day to  work in His Kingdom, one more day to enjoy our children and the world around us! Do you take tomorrow for granted? Do you make plans six months or a year in advance? How do you know that you will be here at that time? You don’t know for sure, none of us do.

Paul told the Philippians this in chapter 3:8-9:

“I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

Even Paul’s only hope of salvation and eternal life was found in the person of Christ and His presence and righteousness in him. Paul did not trust his efforts or beliefs to get him to Heaven, but he did trust in Jesus and his confidence was in Christ alone and the work of Christ in his life!

That is where our assurance is…in Christ alone, living and abiding in our hearts and in our lives and doing His work through us for Him.

In John 6:51, Jesus said a very hard saying for those around Him:

“I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Jesus also referred to His blood as well, for us to “drink of Me”; these sayings made many of His followers fall away and leave Him.

He was teaching that if you want eternal life, then you have to open your heart and allow Him to come in, by receiving Him and His Spirit into your heart and your life. Becoming part of your life, every day.

Some people say that they believe in Jesus so they are saved. Not necessarily. You can believe about Jesus, but unless you have the person of Jesus living in you then you don’t have Him at all!

In 1 John 5:12 the apostle writes it even clearer: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

The evidence of His Presence in your life is seen in your life through your actions, your words, your attitude because all of these will change from the person that you were before to the person that you are because of His Spirit living in you. It is true that many of your old habits will still pop up occasionally, but if you learn more and more about Him through the study of His Word and prayer then the “new creation” will become evident. The sins that you enjoyed once will be repulsive to you. There will be an excitement about learning from the Word of God, which once was so boring.

2 Corinthians 5:17 King James Version (KJV)

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Essentially, you will become more like Christ. If you want the assurance of eternity and of your salvation then you have to look for the evidence of the person and the work of Jesus Christ in your life! He did everything that was needed for us to have salvation, all that we need to do is stop looking at ourselves and focus on Him and on His life in us. He is making you into a new creation, a new person who is more like Himself which your old self could never be!

On your own strength and your will you or I cannot become more like Jesus. The Pharisees are proof of this because they worked hard to learn all of the Law of Moses and God’s commandments. Many of them, though not all, even tried to abide by the Law as closely as they could. The knew the Scriptures, they knew about God and His acts of forgiveness, they knew about what sacrifice to give and when to give it at the Temple, yet their faith was in the works and keeping the Law…not in God.

Misplaced faith will bring all of us to ruin. Knowledge of God, memorized scripture, tithes given faithfully to the church, attendance of church services faithfully, these are all good things BUT unless you have crucified yourself by seeking out what God wants of you, placing Jesus on the throne of your life instead of yourself, unless you have died to your selfish wants and have been resurrected as a new creature in Christ Jesus….? All of those good things that you have done are useless.

Jesus must be on the throne of your heart and your life. Doing His will by reading God’s Word and learning what He desires most above all…which is obedience to Him. If you haven’t done this on a daily basis, not just on occasions when you feel that you NEED God, because we need Him every day in order to do His will! If you neglect learning about Him because it doesn’t fit into your life or your schedule, then you may not know Him as Lord and Savior.

Those who were the “teachers of the Law” knew all of the right things to do and say and sacrifice, yet they did not obey God in all things. They had “book knowledge but not heart knowledge”.

Search your heart and your life. Does your speech and your actions reflect Jesus as your Savior? If your salvation is not evident in your life enough that people can tell that you are saved before you say a word, then you might need to pray and ask God to show you where you fall short and ask Him for the strength to give Him a place of honor in your heart.