Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Examination is Important part 4

What is fruit?

James tells us there will be works. When I was growing up I thought works or fruit in a Christian's life was how many people I brought to God. I am not really sure where that thinking came from. It was definitely the focal point of churches, Christian events and missionary success.

However, salvation is in the hand of God. We cannot make anyone believe. So, it is wrong to use that as a sign of fruit.

I think God does give us a very clear picture of fruit. I think it would be describe better as change. We change as a believer. That change becomes evident to others and affects how we interact in the world.

There are too many verses that support this to be able to list more than a small fraction of them. Just read the whole New Testament. Well and the Old Testament :)  also supports this idea of change, Ezekiel 11 so beautifully tells us that God does this work. "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, [fn] and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God."

Titus 3 says, "For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another.But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,"

He saved us from what? From being foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. We were ONCE that way.

2 Peter 1:"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral [fn]excellence, and in yourmoral excellence, knowledge,and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in yourbrotherly kindness, love.For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;"  (underline my emphasis)

 Galatians 5 tells us what the fruit of the Spirit is and gives a clear difference between walking in the flesh and Spirit. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.17 For the flesh  sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you  please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions,factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
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You see there is a battle going on. In that battle the Spirit is stronger and God will complete His work. God will bring change for His glory! We are saved from our previous life, death controlled by the flesh. What power is it of God to save us from hell but not the flesh that binds us. None at all! Salvation is done, salvation is being done and salvation will be completed. The same grace that freed us from hell is working within us to free us from our flesh. Change! God is powerful. I love Paul Washer's story: (paraphrased) If I stand before you tonight and tell you that I was hit by an 18 wheeler before coming here tonight, you would claim I am crazy or a liar. You know that if a truck ran over me, I would definitely look different. I would not be standing here. Isn't God bigger than a truck?

1 John tells us many things about a believer and non-believer. I would recommend meditating on the whole book. A believer will love God's laws, will walk in the light, will love his brother, will keep His commandments, will not love this world or the lusts of this world and abides in Him.

Could a person not show ANY fruit and be saved? I don't think scripture supports that, but I would not be one to judge it. Scripture calls for God's judgment on those who don't.  (1 Corinthians 11:30-32)  However, I would strongly advise that person to do what scripture commands: EXAMINE YOURSELF.

Why Examination is Important part 3

Cautions:

This has more to do with how we interact with others and examination.

I have noticed a trend among conservative Christians that teach evidence of salvation. I have noticed a "spiritual gift" of fruit inspector arise. I have even heard of churches refusing people because they don't see a person have enough faith or fruit. I have seen people criticized, condemned, and disheartened to the point of leaving Christian fellowship. Then I have seen these same people justify it as these people were not really saved. This saddens, but doesn't surprise me. Satan will cause extremes to try and  make the work of Spirit ineffective.  I think that is why the Bible mentions so often how we should love each other. It is love that stands out and speaks volumes to unbelievers.  Yet, on the other side, we are not to "love" to the  point we throw out doctrine. The Bible IS doctrine and God finds it important enough to have written a whole book about it.  It is a delicate balance. I picture truth and love on opposite sides of board balancing on a point of a rock with a chasm on each side. Leaning too much either way is dangerous.

We must teach examination of fruit. Why? Because the Bible commands it. We must show mercy, love, grace, support, and help bearing each other weaknesses. Why? Because the Bible commands it. Again it is a balance thing. Everything we do must be done in love. If we approach another confessing believer with sin, our motivation must always be love. We see a path a person is traveling or a stronghold in someone's life and can see the destruction it is or will bring. We approach that person because we are concerned. It hurts us to see this in their life and the fruit of it. We can see it affects their relationship with God and others. If they are unrepentant, yes the Bible lays out a plan of action.

This is different from imperfections and working out of faith. This is different from the natural struggle and growth of one's faith. This is different from being weak. A Christian who is growing is humble and willing to be taught. It doesn't mean they will agree with everything being taught... there is room for interpretation and application to different lives to "grey" areas. However, they will have a desire to know God's heart and follow it. 1 John says we will love His commandments and desire to walk in the light.

 We do not know what goes on in the heart. I do not think the Bible really says we are to judge one's salvation. We are to judge their works.  James tells us that faith without works is dead and useless. Therefore if we don't see works/change in a life what does it tell us. There isn't evidence of salvation. The sinful man in 1 Corinthians was the repentant man in 2 Corinthians. In the first, they were told to "treat" him as an unbeliever or actually worse than an unbeliever. The standard is higher for those who claim to be Christian and the consequences harsher. We are not to judge those of the world.  Was the man in 1 Corinthians "saved"? ... yes. It is evidenced by his repentance in 2 Corinthians. They were then told to embrace him. You see, they didn't judge his salvation.... they judged his actions. It brought the man back to God. Evidence of a true believer.

Now most professing Christians don't have such blatant sins in their lives. What are we to do with them? If they are not mature, they won't be leaders. If they live immature Christian lives, love them and teach them. If they live worldly lives, I would treat them as unbelievers. How do I treat unbelievers? Well love them and carefully choose my involvement in their life and their influence in mine. Pray and pray and continually pray for everyone. Does my consideration of their salvation change the truth of it in their lives? No.

Examination needs to be taught. It could be a matter of heaven or hell. It especially needs to be taught that a person needs to examine his self. That is what is the most beneficial. Be careful teaching that saying a prayer saves you or telling someone that you think they are saved. We need not to judge but constantly point to scripture. Only self-examination can really work that out in someone's life. Let God confirm or convict ... do not interfere in the work of God.

Why Examination is Important part 2

In my previous post, I briefly explained the reasons for examination of one's life and the few examples of examination of other's lives.

The most important (and probably the least done) of all examination is of one's self.

Lam 3:40 Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.

2 Cor 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

Gal 6:4  But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

American is so against anyone doubting their faith. "Oh just remember that day you are saved.... write it down in the back of the Bible and look at it when you doubt." I never see that in scripture. Not once. Test yourself to see if you are in the faith Paul says, he does not say think back to the day we told you about Jesus. What are you examining? To see if Jesus Christ is in you! IF Jesus lives IN you there will be evidence of it. WILL BE! Always! Read the end of James chapter 2. He calls them foolish to not believe that faith without works is useless. It has no use. It cannot save. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Why are people reluctant to examine themselves? Many become angry. One I think is the Spirit convicts them and their life. Some I think are afraid self-examination will lead to constant fear and doubt.

I do not think this is the case. 1 John is a book packed with evidences of salvation. 1 John 1:3 states the book is written so we may have fellowship with them. In the last chapter he states, "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life."  A whole book on the evidence of salvation in a person's life. This is what your life will look like and this is what is will not look like if you are saved. However, he ends with I have written these things so you will KNOW you have eternal life. Examination leads to assurance of salvation.

I struggled for a year after hearing Paul Washer, Voddie Baucham, John Piper and reading Spurgeon, No Holiness No Heaven and many other great preachers. I really fluctuated weekly with whether I was saved or not. I had my highs in Jesus and my spiritual walk and then the lows where I prayed I wasn't going to hell. However, God revealed much to me in that time. I no longer struggle. I actually have no more doubt (99.9% of the time and the .1 is so short lived). That peace came through examination of MYSELF. In the adapted words of Voddie Baucham "I am not the woman I should be, but thank God I am not the woman I once was!" It is the change in my life that gives me assurance. I see God's hand, I see His change brought out in me. Some of it is visible to others, but much is deep within my heart and soul. When I doubt, I look at who I was and who I am. The change is evidence of His work.

Another reason I believe in the examination of self. It brings about worship. My life has truly become a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1). It isn't my work but His. I can see His Spirit changing me. I can see power in overcoming things that I know isn't from me. It is all to His glory. When I see my life, my faults, compared to God's goodness I am overwhelmed with a spirit of awe and worship. I am so humbled that he chose me. I am grateful for his mercy and grace. I am more compassionate to those struggling. I want to point everyone to Jesus. Thank God that He is removing the blemishes and making me holy as He is. Glory always to God!

Why Examination is Important part 1

You don't have to know me long to realize one of my passions is teaching evidence of salvation. When about 75% of Americans call themselves "Christian" (Less call themselves Christian - cnn article) then wouldn't we be a "Christian" nation. However, Jesus says in Matthew 7 that not all that say Lord Lord (emphasis in scripture ... Lord you are Lord!!!) are saved.  Matthew 7 also teaches that the way is narrow and FEW find it.  Again Matthew 22:14, many are called but FEW are chosen. This is consistent with a remnant being saved throughout the Bible. Even among the Jews, many were called out of Eygpt... not all of them were chosen. Many died quick deaths choosing idols over God ... even more never made it to the promised land.

However, in America if you say a prayer you are saved. No! Not biblical. The Bible consistently in all scripture teaches change of life with salvation. Though I will not go into that in this post, I have touched on it in other posts. So do I think we need to go around and check the fruit of everyone we meet. No I would never want that. I do think there are instances when we need to look at the fruit in someone's life and respond to it. Unrepentant sin is one of those times. Everyone sins. Believers walking in the light are repentant about sin brought to their attention. The Spirit that dwells in us cannot allow us to live comfortably in sin. Thus God disciplines those He loves.  If in love, we approach, with much prayer, a confessing believer about sin and through much prayer and council that believer remains hard-hearted, we are commanded to expel them from the church and not fellowship with them. Why? God demands purity in the church. Look at Ananias and Saphira. Just because God doesn't strike people down as dramatically as He did then (and honestly I am sure God does still remove people from the church in His way, possibly even with death) (1 Cor. 11:30) God still doesn't change. He desires the church and us to be holy.  Why judge blatant sin? Because it is love for a person leaving God's will and love for the purity of the church of God. God's long suffering with us is in no means justification for lowering our standards.

Do a search on the words reprove and rebuke in the Bible.

Two: We are to judge those in leadership. They are to to be mature spiritually. People in the church should clearly see that maturity. It is a judgment call to look at their lives and determine whether or not they are worthy to fill a position of authority in the church.

Third: We are judge people's live to determine those we should join up with. We are told not to be unequally yoked. This goes for marriage, business or any kind of close friendship. The lives we choose to be close influence in our lives calls for careful discernment. (1 Cor 15:33)

Fourth: Most important, we are to judge ourselves. We have a holy calling and commanded to be holy.  (To be continued)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

His pleasure

Eric Liddel was a passionate man. He lived his passion in his faith in every nook of his life. He ran ... he ran fast. He won a bronze and a gold in the 1924 Olympics. He wouldn't compete in the 100 meter runs because they were held on Sunday. He was a man of God. He lived with conviction. I am sure he heard "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

I love his quote. "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure." 

There are times when I write, not everytime, but in the quiet still times of praising God, I feel His pleasure. It is like He is pouring out His glory in my life and I have to write. In the times of snuggling kids, cleaning house, doing laundry or cooking a meal that makes the family feel I love them, I feel HIS pleasure. The times when His glory pours out into me and I do .... do whatever to the glory of God. 


When do you feel His pleasure?

Sweetness .... He loves me

A little worm burrowing in the ground has no hope of communicating with a star. It wouldn't even know how to start. The vast difference is worlds away and languages apart. Yet, the star shines on the worm and covers it with its light. I feel I am much farther away from a Holy God. I desire to know Him and understand Him and try as I might, I don't even know where to start. Yet, God shines on me and calls me Beloved. What awesomeness is that!! He sees me struggle and  plea and hears. He gives me a glimpse of Him that overwhelms me, something that fills me that I don't even understand. He doesn't take pity on me.... He loves me. Words cannot express.

A taste of sweetness I try to savor
the flavor sweeter than anything I've known.
A smell of heaven quickly blowing
away as I try to understand what's shown.

Oh God, my heart is swelling, wildly beating
because it cannot contain
Your love so filling, deeply pulsing
Leaving me forever changed

I weep at such Joy
I sob in such Peace
The Love of You 
that draws me to my knees.

You love me
You love me
You love me
I will never be the same.

Prone to wander, Lord I sing it
It gives me such a fright
But I feel and I know
I am safe because of Your might.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Salt of the Earth


 Matthew states "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men."  Salt also preserves keeps spoilage from happening. It is our job to offer flavor, the love the God, and to stand against decay. To say, "In the name of Christ, stop!"

Here is such a beautiful example of it. This is from a speech by Ronald Reagan. The story of Telemachus may be found in the Foxes Book of Martyrs. 

The Asian monk living in a little remote village, spending most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance -- I hesitate to say the name because I'm not sure I know the pronunciation, but let me take a chance. It was Telemacmus, back in the fourth century. And then one day, he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. And believing that he had heard, he set out. And weeks and weeks later, he arrived there, having traveled most of the way on foot.
And it was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths. And he followed a crowd into the Colosseum, and then there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, ``We who are about to die salute you.'' And he realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. And he cried out, ``In the name of Christ, stop!'' And his voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Colosseum.
And as the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, ``In the name of Christ, stop.'' And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn't, they grew belligerent and angry. And as he was pleading with the gladiators, ``In the name of Christ, stop,'' one of them plunged his sword into his body. And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, ``In the name of Christ, stop.''
And suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Colosseum. And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. And in the dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Shaken

Every now and then in life, something comes along that shakes my world and makes me reevaluate everything. I feel I was blindsided by a force beyond anything I could stand against. I was casually catching the updates, cute quips, photos and inspirational links posted by friends on facebook. Then it came from nowhere, not really welcomed and with such power it couldn't be ignored. Chinese-Made Infant Flesh Capsules Seized  The comments regarding the article discussed Chinese cannibalism with pictures of babies cooked and floating in pots. STOP. Let that really sink in for a minute. The nausea and tears wouldn't stop. Days later the pit in the stomach still remains. Oddly enough an article said that countries typically ignore it because they don't want to upset the political ties.   ??!!

I have spent days absentmindedly listening to/ reading about $10 hairbows to match outfits, the newest app, registering kids for sports, the newest TV show or twist and I could go on and on. I have had to fight the urge to say, "Do you know they eat their kids in China?" Now wouldn't that be a conversation killer.

What really matters? What should we as Christians be focused on? I recently read the Hunger Games. I recommend it. Not for entertainment. For a commentary on our society, for discussion and for a reevaluation of who we are. Just how different are we? We are obsessed with fashion, entertainment and ourselves. We have a whole social media based on "look at me". Were those at the capitol any different?  Do we stop to look at what we support when we buy the newest clothing, newest gadget and newest gimmick stamped "made in china".  Our we outraged enough to say anything or do we worry more about upsetting the ties between friends? We worry about the Biggest Loser, the next idol, who is dancing the best or how the series will end on tv more than the neighbor struggling with divorce or paying the bills.

We show more emotion to the guy in the car that cut us off or the the cashier because we are standing too long in a grocery store than the social issues that just make us uncomfortable. We Americans are shallow. We are so blessed and it has lulled us to sleep. Wake Up American Christian!!

My world has been turned upside down. I don't know how it will all be arranged when it settles. I am not saying that we can't enjoy the blessings God's given us. I won't even venture to say what God expects you to do with your  money, blessings, time .... life. Just stop and think, be broken over what breaks God's heart, seek what He finds important. Our world is lost... so utterly lost - sacrificing their children to Molech. Are we helping snatch people from hell? Or our we too busy getting the newest something because last year's model is too outdated - too preoccupied with things that just don't matter. I pray that I come out of this with a new vision for eternity!


We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings.
Helen Keller

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whose Rights anyway?

It is definitely through the hardships of life that God does most of his sanctifying. God has used many things the past couple years to teach me hard lessons.  It is hard to forgive. It is hard to let go of hurt. It is hard to give up and let things go, especially when I think I am right. Yet, I am not my own. I am bought by blood. I have to lay it all down.

Matthew 5 says:
You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYEAND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.


It continues to say
Love your enemies, pray for them who persecute you. 

It is so easy to think of enemies or those who persecute as people in other countries that are called to die for Christ, to watch their houses burned and friends and family tortured for HIS name. God used the extreme of any situation here... those who are your enemies. If God wants me not only to forgive, but LOVE my enemies, do I not think He wants me to love those who are a thorn in the side, a nuisance, add stress to my life or deeply hurt me. Love them! It is a high calling and not doable in my own strength. It happens as God changes me to look more like Him.

Forgiveness is so much God's will that it will affect our relationship with God if we don't. I have found often that when I won't forgive I am holding on to pride. There is some part of me that believes I deserve better treatment. It is my right.


I am required to do this because I have no rights. None. A slave should care for nothing except the will of his master.

Or do you not know that your body is a [fn11] temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from [fn12] God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.


I am free to love because I am not my own. I am free to forgive because it is His job to take care of me. I have heard often times that we are the slaves of Christ. However, when Christ purchased us with His blood as His slaves, He also in doing so took on the role of Master. It is His job by His covenant with us to protect us. How glorious is that! How undeserved and God in is His goodness grants us a position of protection from anything He doesn't see fit for us to endure.

So then am I to become a doormat, someone to be tossed around and used by anyone? No! Let's look at the person we are struggling with to love, let us look at the person that has hurt us deeply. As a bond servant of the Most High I am to obey what God wants for the best for myself. I need to know the scriptures, who God is and how He wants me to live. The Bible tells us that it is not wise to fellowship with fools, the ungodly or "Christians" living in unrepentant sin. We are not to allow them into our home, and as in principle our intimate lives, those that cause dissension or teach heresy. We are to abstain from evil. However, I will not be rejecting them, I will be obeying God's principles that He has laid out for me to live by. I am obeying my master.

So the next time I come across a difficult person, it is easier to love, forgive because I know they don't answer to me but to God for the Master is responsible for his slave. I need to love because without Him, I would be just like them and many times I still act in the flesh. I can go the extra mile, show the kindness, be polite, witness within God's protective limits because He cares for me.