There have been many things in this world that have frustrated me lately. What with the politics, the government, the culture, etc. Sometimes, it seems to all be going downhill. Sometimes, it really scares me. Sometimes, I think, “What is this world coming to?” Read More »
This is a question that has been on my mind a lot. Not so much now as when I was younger, but it is still a question that I struggle with at times. I have let my fear and insecurities get ahold of me and I wonder, “Am I really truly a Christian? Or am I just some sort of fake?” It scares me how my mind can think that way, but I believe many other people struggle with it too.
So, knowing if you’re a Christian is not as easy other…life commitments (that’s what we’ll call it). It’s not like signing a contract where once you put your signature down, you’re in. For most people, when you become a Christian, you don’t feel God entering into your heart. It’s not like a “pop” and then boom, you’re life is changed. Now maybe it’s like that for some people, but that’s quite rare.
For me, and probably for many people, I don’t know the exact moment I was saved. I know I made the decision at church when I was six, but it could’ve happened before that or, more likely, after that.
But how do you know that you’re a Christian? How do you know?
One way is by your works. You really can’t believe in Jesus and then not have the works to prove it.
Works, doesn’t mean that you’re forced to do things for God, or that it is like a chore: something you never want to do. No, if you’re a Christian, you’ll want everything you do to be for God. As a Christian, you’ll love God and you’ll want to serve. Why? Because He gave everything, even His only son’s life, for you. And we can’t ever thank him enough.
Works also doesn’t mean that you need to sell all your possessions and go live in a hut in Africa, teaching God’s Word. Now, maybe that is some people’s calling, but it’s not everyone’s. You can do what God calls you to do right where you are. You wouldn’t be where you are if God didn’t want you there.
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
But you can’t be a Christian just by good works. That, is not what makes you a Christian.
So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
Faith in God, is what makes a Christian, a Christian. But if you have faith, good works will follow along with it. So one does not come without the other.
While you can’t necessarily “see” faith, you can see good works. So look back on your life, what do you see? If you’re not sure what you see, ask people who know you (like family). What do they see in you?
You may say, “But people can do good works and still not be Christians.” Yes, that’s true. So if you are doing good works, you need to ask the question, “Why? Why are you doing good works?” Is it for selfish reasons? Or is it for God?
An even more important question to ask is:
Do you love Him?
These are hard questions. And sometimes we can’t see the answer clearly. Sometimes we just have to have faith in our faith in God.
Trust in God. Have faith that you are in His hands. Know that if you love Him, He will always be with you.
So I was listening to a bit of Not a fan. by Kyle Idleman yesterday while driving (No. I wasn’t driving. My dad was. I have not yet learned that skill.). Well, right at the beginning Mr. Idleman made a major point that I thought I’d like to talk about. A point that I hadn’t really thought about, but it struck me at how true it was.
You see, to become Christians, we’re told to believe in Christ. Believe that Christ is who he says he is. Believe that he died on a cross. Believe that he rose again in three days.
Believe that Christ’s death paid for your sins.
I took that step of faith around six years old. Now who knows when I really believed. Not everyone knows the exact moment when they believed. I just know that at one time I didn’t and at one time I did. I was later taught the ABC method to becoming a Christian. Do you know what that is?
- A-Admit that you are a sinner.
- B-Believe that Christ died and rose again. That the Bible is absolutely true.
- C-Confess your sins to God and you will be forgiven.
That was great and all. Especially for such a young kid like me at that time. I’m not saying that any of this is bad. But those are not the only things that make us a Christian. There’s another part, one that is even bigger than believing Jesus, and that’s following Him.
Believing and following Christ go hand in hand with being a Christian.
But we separate them, because the reality is that many people who believe in Jesus (who say they’re Christians), don’t actually follow him. When really the meaning of being a Christian is not just believing, it’s following.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
You must follow him, if you’re to be his follower, a Christian.
Now that’s hard.
It’s one thing to just believe in Christ. It takes faith; it is not that easy. But it is a lot easier than actually following Christ. Following Christ takes more sacrifice. It costs more.
And that is what turns people away. They, we, don’t want to sacrifice anything. We don’t want to do anything that costs us anything.
But that verse above says that you must give up your own way. Another version says, “you must deny yourself”. You have to give up your own desires and take on God’s desires as your own. But when you love Jesus, taking on his desires is what you want to do.
Then you must take up your cross. Your cross. Just like Jesus took up his cross and sacrificed so much for us. He sacrificed even his own life so that we might live in Heaven for eternity. Now we must take up our own crosses.
We may not want to, but if we’re to be true Christians, we need to do more than just believe in him. We need to follow him.
Every religion of some sort has a measure of faith involved. Some more so than others, but they all essentially do. Whether it’s believing that you reincarnate into something else after you die or believing if you do enough good works in this life you’ll earn your way to Heaven or believing that there are gods that control different element and forces of nature.
For Christians, it’s believing that there is only one God who rules over everything.
It’s believing that God created the world by just speaking it into existence.
It’s believing that the world was once perfect, but we brought sin into it.
It’s believing that God is three in one: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It’s believing that God sent his son, fully God and fully man, to earth to save us from our sin.
It’s believing that his son lived a perfect, a blameless, life.
It’s believing that Jesus suffered torture then died on a cross.
Most importantly it’s believing that Jesus’s death was the ultimate sacrifice, the perfect atonement for our sins. That if we only confess them and ask for forgiveness, we will be forgiven. We will have a clean slate. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin it is, it is forgiven. To God’s eyes, sin is sin. One is not worse than another. They are all just as bad and he forgives them all.
It’s believing that against all odds he rose again on the third day.
It’s believing that he later ascended into Heaven.
To believe that takes faith. A lot of faith.
Yes, there is plenty of physical evidence that all of this happened. But even with this evidence you have to have faith. Evidence in many cases isn’t the reason that people believe. If that were true, then probably just about everyone would already be saved.
But there is more to believing in God than believing in the evidence. It takes faith. And having faith in something we can’t see, feel, hear, or smell, in something not physical is hard.
At times, we can find ourselves doubting. But we have to let go of that doubt. It will get us no closer to Jesus, but fully believing in him will.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
This doesn’t mean that those who saw Jesus and believed weren’t ever blessed, but they weren’t blessed for that reason.
Faith in Christ is like believing that there is invisible hands there to catch you as you fall from a cliff. You are submitting to Him, placing your life in the hands of someone you only believe is there. But the thing is…
Your life is already in God’s Hands. It has always been in his Hands. Taking that step of faith is just you finally opening your eyes and believing in someone who has been there since the beginning of time.
That is the difference between our faith and other people’s faith in their religion. Our faith rests in something true and real; their faith is in something nonexistent.
Don’t worry about tomorrow.
Don’t worry about whether you have studied enough for a test. Or whether you are getting enough credits. Don’t worry about failing.
Don’t worry about whether you’re pretty enough. Or if you are doing the right sort of things, going to enough social events. Don’t worry about whether you have enough friends.
Don’t worry about getting a driver’s license. Or having a job.
I know it’s hard to stop worrying. I know sometimes I worry to much. Especially about the silly things like reading enough and fictional characters (I know, but it is true.).
I worry about whether I’m blogging enough. Whether I’m getting my point across or whether I’m making no sense. I worry about not fulfilling all my blogging deadlines for blog tours and such.
I worry about writing. Oh my novel. It’s needs a lot of work.
I worry about whether I’m doing enough schoolwork. Or getting high enough grades. I worry about not having a plan for college.
I’m worried about letting people down and disappointing them. About not living up to people’s expectations of me.
I worry about not doing something useful with my life. I’m scared of wasting my life.
Sometimes I feel like I’m just drowning in a never-ending list of things I need to do, places I need to go, things I need to see,…and the list goes on.
I know, there is such a thing as having a good amount of pressure. Because it can help keep us motivated. Or we might just laze around all day and waste our lives away.
But there is also such a time when that pressure, anxiety, worry, or whatever you call it becomes too much. Then it becomes overbearing. We become so stressed that we can literally lose ourselves in it. I know.
But we can’t allow these worries to control us. While we don’t have the power to overcome our worries, God can take them away and give us relief.
Matthew 6: 25, 31-34
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
God will give you the peace you need. He cares for you. He loves you. He can give you reassurance that will cover all your worries. He can take away all your worries, you just have to trust Him.
We are afraid of trusting anyone but ourselves. But ourselves aren’t strong enough to get rid of our worries. Only God can do it. And trust is all it takes to make it happen.
Hey readers! I’m starting a new series of posts today. I hope that you enjoy it! Please let me know your thoughts.
Here’s to you:
You are loved.
You are loved by your parents. You are loved by your brothers and sisters (if you have any). You are loved by all your relatives. You are loved by your spouse (again, if you have one).
But more important than that is the fact that you are loved by God. The God who created the whole universe. Everything from the protons, neutrons, and electrons that make up an atom to the whole solar system!
Is it not incredible to realize that God chose to make the insects, the birds, the sea creatures, the land animals, and you? He chose to make you. Before the beginning of time God made this decision.
He never had to create you or me. God was not obligated to give us life, but He chose to. He wanted to. And that choice makes all the difference in the world. It means the difference between being expendable and unwanted to having meaning and purpose. It throws a whole new light on your existence.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
God’s love fulfills all these classes so completely. God, as one verse stated, is love.
1 John 4:8
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
While people’s love may change and shift, God’s love stays the same. It will not diminish. It will not fade over time. It is not dependent on how “good” you are or how much sin you have.
God loves you just the way you are. And He’ll love you the same no matter what you do. No matter how many mistakes you make or how far you drift away from Him, He still will always love you. That’s a promise.
His love will cleanse and take away all sin. Any sins that you have ever committed won’t matter anymore. They never will again. The burden that sin has placed on you will be gone.
His love was so great, that He was willing to sacrifice His only son to save us, the people He loves.
Can you imagine the kind of love God has to let His own son be beaten until He unrecognizable and then killed by the very same people He was trying to save? I can’t even begin to comprehend it. It resembles the kind of love Abraham showed when he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac to God. And it is such a beautiful and sacrificial kind of love.
Wherever you are in your life, whatever you’re going through, know this: God loves you. Never lose faith in His love. Trust in Him. For His love is always with you.
Change. I almost shiver at hearing that word sometimes. There are good changes and there are bad changes. But, for the most part, we don’t like any type of change. Change may bring sadness or difficulties or happiness or something new different. And we don’t always like something new.
The Jews didn’t like change. They loved their traditions and laws and sacrifices. So when Jesus, the Son of God, came down to earth and told them to change, they hated him. He offered them something new and different, and most of the people rejected him. They crucified him. Jesus gave them freedom from the law and forgiveness of sins without sacrifices. He offered them new life. Eternal life. But for this they had him beaten and hanged on a cross.
Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers.
This is why Christians are persecuted more so than most. We’re different. Our “religion” isn’t a religion. It doesn’t tell you to work harder and be good so that you can earn your way to Heaven. All religions ask something of you. They give you laws to follow in hopes that you might earn your way to Heaven or Paradise or something like that. But you can never do that. None of us can. We’re too sinful and fallen. We can’t do anything on our own.
The Jews were in the same predicament as everyone else who followed a religion, except for the important fact that they followed the one and only true God. If you look throughout the Old Testament you’ll see that they couldn’t live up to God’s standards. Again and again they fell short.
Jesus changed things. We can now have a one on one relationship with God. We don’t have to be good enough for Him; we just have to believe in Him. There is no more need for sacrifices. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and He will never fail to forgive us of all our transgressions. We were in slavery under the law, but now we are set free.
This is why someone will always be persecuting us (at least until Jesus returns). Our sinful human nature wants to work for salvation. It gives us a feeling of self, of identity (though our identity can be found in Christ). We like to believe that we did something on our own. Like God isn’t actually in control of our lives. But that’s not true. For everything we’ve done or ever will do has been because of God. All the glory belongs to Him.
Let’s rejoice over the freedoms we have today in Christ.
We are set free from the law of sin and death.
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.
This doesn’t mean to live however an ungodly lifestyle you want. Because of this precious gift God has given us we should want to live by the example Jesus set before us. We shouldn’t ever waste such freedom that way.
Jesus changed the world. Now it’s our chance to live out that change to the fullest.
I know, Thanksgiving has come and passed, but I’m not talking about the holiday. I’m talking about the act of giving thanks, of being thankful. That is something that we can discuss all the time.
I have recently started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She talks about living a fuller life in Christ. I have really liked what she has had to say about it. An important role in that is thanksgiving.
The Greek word for “giving thanks” is eucharisteo. In that word, there are the parts of two other Greek words: charis and chara. Charis means grace, while chara means joy. Isn’t that neat?
But aren’t you here to talk about thanksgiving? Yes, I am and I believe that grace and joy play a part in that. Being thankful is hard. I fail at it, a lot. We all get so lost in our own troubles and worries and temptations that sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture.
I’m not saying that any of our struggles are unimportant, because they are important. God lets us haves struggles so that we grow stronger in our faith and closer to Him. Whatever you’re going through, He will be with you. And we know from the Bible that He will not let us be tempted more than we can bear.
1 Corinthians 10:13
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
But in all of this, we can become quite ungrateful and not thankful. I know I do it all the time.
So how do we become thankful? I think it would help if we took time to focus on Christ throughout each day, everyday. For Ann Voskamp, she started to write a list of one thousand things she was thankful for.
If we start to pay attention to the things around us that we can be thankful for, naming specific things, it would bring us to not take things for granted. I believe that we would get a small glimpse of how much we can be thankful for. There are big things like God, living another day, family, etc. Then there are the minuscule things like melted butter on hot bread, rain pattering against the roof.
When we become thankful, we become joyful.
Joy is dependent on thanksgiving. The more thankful you are, the more joyful you will be.
This is something very important that I learned from One Thousand Gifts. It is so true. How can we be joyful when we are ungrateful? We may be happy, but that isn’t joy. And it definitely doesn’t last like joy does. Happiness comes and goes and can’t be trusted. It comes from material things. But joy, on the other hand, is something that can last forever. It comes from God. Once we have it, it can’t be taken away.
As Christians, we already have that joy that comes from God. But it sometimes gets diminished in going of life. Sometimes we need more of it.
Jesus lived a life of thanksgiving. Even near death, he gave thanks. He even gave thanks for his death.
2 Corinthians 4:15
All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
Because of God’s grace, we can live a life of thanksgiving too. We can learn to see things to be thankful for in any situation. It just takes a lot of practice.
But in the end, I’m sure that it will bring us so much joy.
Here is the second and last part about God, His love, and His relationship with us. If you missed the last part, you can check it out here. This part will focus more on God in the New Testament and in this present time.
God is three in one. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For the most part, we only see the Father in the Old Testament (but all of them are there). In the New Testament we see all three, though Jesus is the most prominent. They each add something as a whole. The Father is the one who created the world, Jesus is the one who saves the world (at least, those who accept him), and the Holy Spirit who comes into our hearts and fills us. The Holy Spirit is like our conscience, always urging us to do what’s right and letting us feel guilty when we fall short. The Holy Spirit is the one who gave the twelve apostles the ability to speak in tongues and allow people (even in today’s time) to preform miracles.
In the New Testament the Father shows His love by sending His only Son into the world, fully God and fully man. He was born of a virgin in the little town of Bethlehem. Throughout his life on earth Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies about him in the Old Testament. He had twelve disciples, one of whom betrayed him. He preformed many many miracles, including raising someone from the dead, and he taught those who would listen (usually in parables). He never sinned.
After he was betrayed, Jesus was tortured then crucified and died. God let it happen, even though His son asked for the suffering to be taken away from Him. It was the only way to save us.
Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.
God is so holy and sovereign that He can’t even look at sin. We can’t even begin to comprehend God’s majesty. That is why Jesus said this at his crucifixion.
Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
God turned away from His own son because Jesus had taken on the sins of the whole world (past, present, and future) so that God couldn’t stand to look at him. But Jesus rose again on the third day after his death and once appearing to many people he arose to Heaven to sit on the throne at the right hand of God forever.
Just think for a moment. God gave up His only Son. Of course, I’m not a parent, but I am sure some of you who read this are. Would you give up your child to save the world? He wouldn’t even save the whole world, only those who accepted him as their lord and savior. I can’t even begin to imagine that. But God did it for us. Now that is just plain amazing. It shows us His love, but also His hate of sin. His own Son was the only sufficient sacrifice that could wipe away our sin.
Before Jesus went to heaven, he gave us a “mission”.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This command is for all Christians. Considering what God did, Jesus did, to save us, we should be glad to do this. The rest of the New Testament gives us great examples of this task being carried out.
I’m not perfect, no one is. This point of this discussion is to know that God doesn’t change. He is the same forever. He has always loved us and He will always hate sin. So lets remember that. Okay?
Peace. Is that not what we all want? Peace from war. Peace from stress and anxiety. Not a single thing to worry about. No tragedies. No struggles. No hard times. No sadness. No sickness. No death. Well, that’s starting to sound like a utopia to me, don’t you think?
I know we can’t really stop wars, though we can be a good influence in the world and maybe it would happen less. Tragedies, slavery, starvation, natural disasters, and the like are always going to be here. We can make a difference in the world. But are any of these things ever truly going to stop? No, and that includes death. “So, are you telling us to just give up?” You might be asking. No, I am not. But I am saying some things just will never come true, at least, until Jesus returns.
Peace, inner peace, all of us can have. God, the creator of all the Heavens and the Earth, offers us peace. How do we get this peace?
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace is beyond anything that we can even begin to comprehend. It can never be taken away from us. All we have to do is trust God with our lives, our struggles, our hopes, our dreams, and everything!
This is part of a song praising God.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
I think this is one of the main reasons we have trouble being and staying at peace. We can’t keep our thoughts fixed on God. I know, it is hard. We get so caught up in our lives at times. Our worries and everything else get in the way what we should be spending time on.
Another reason could be fear. We want control over our own lives. If you pay attention to what the world is doing today, it seems we want control of everything. The desire for control, power is one of our greatest downfalls.
Now we need to let go. We have to have faith. Jesus has given us that chance for peace.
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
Because of what Jesus did on earth, when we have faith and trust in him our sins are wiped clean. We become righteous to God! That, is why we owe him everything, especially our lives. So we should be full of joy to be able to glorify Him through everything we do.
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
This peace is such precious gift (See what I did there?). Money and other material stuff can not bring you peace, only God can. God is the only one who can give you everlasting peace. No thing, no one, can do that.
We may not know where we are going or what is going to happen to us, but God does. We can rely on Him to lead us down the right path. He is good, and can’t do anything wrong or He wouldn’t be God.
So lets trust Him and receive that peace. Alright? It is such a relief to know that your life is not in your hands and in the much more capable hands of God.
In closing, here is one more verse. I wish it for all of you.
2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.