May 30, 2007
Is Jesus the Lord and Savior of your life? First we must understand that nothing we do saves us.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. NIV
Ephesians 2:8 states clearly that you are saved by faith and that we can do nothing to save ourselves. Salvation comes only through faith in Jesus. We must believe in the fact that He died on the cross as punishment for our sins. That is how Jesus becomes our Savior. It is a gift free and clearly requires nothing more than believing.
Jesus said in John 6:47, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” (NIV)
That is how Jesus becomes your Savior.
But how does He become your Lord? What is a Lord? He is your master. If you are a slave someone has bought you with a price and now you belong to a master. You must do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. The Bible tells us clearly that Jesus has bought us and He owns us totally and fully, or should. Look at these verses:
1 Corinthians 6:20
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV
1 Corinthians 7:23
23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. NIV
Our salvation comes by faith, but making Jesus Lord of our lives takes work. When you belong to Jesus as your master then you will obey His commands and do what He says. Can a slave in this world tell his master to leave him alone, that he doesn’t want to do what his master tells him to and still be an obedient slave? No way. And in the same way, we cannot be obedient slaves of Jesus without a willingness to do what He says. Why are we here in this world? Why didn’t we just go to Heaven the moment we accepted Jesus as Savior? And why does God keep Satan from killing us as he would like to?
One reason God wants us to remain here in this world is to tell others about Jesus so they can be saved. Can anything be more important than sharing the Good News of how to spend eternity in Heaven rather than hell? In looking at a picture of eternity of a million, million years and more, does it matter what kind of house you and I have or how fast a car we have? No, the only important thing when you consider eternity is whether or not you going to spend eternity in Heaven or hell. And once you and I know that we are going to Heaven, can anything be more important than whether others will spend eternity in Heaven or hell?
We are here to do God’s work and fulfill God’s plan for our lives to share the Gospel to a dying world with no hope. Christians, if you are saved and going to Heaven and not serving God with works and actions then you are useless and dead to Him in this world, because you are not fulfilling your purpose for being here at all.
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. NIV
This verse and the many verses around it say that if you are a Christian and not working for Jesus you are like a body without life. You serve no purpose. It is no wonder that so many Christians are looking for the reason they are here in this world; people are looking for real purpose. As long as you serve self as your god and your lord, you are serving the wrong one and you will be empty. You must put God and His calling and purpose first in your life and make Him Lord of your life and then you will have meaning and fulfillment.
May 28, 2007
What is my favorite verse?
Most people who have heard me preach will quickly be able to confirm what my favorite verse is in the Bible. This verse finds its way into many of my sermons because it is a foundational verse for all Christians. It has become my peace and support throughout my life, especially in times where life has seemed especially heavy. When life has become so overwhelming, this verse speaks hope to me. It is the summary of the theology of how a Christian remains happy through trials. And it is the answer to how a Christian can actually give thanks for trials, as we are called to do in James 1:2. "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds," (NIV)
The verse I speak of is Romans 8:28. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (NIV)
As John 3:16 has become the synoptic hope of the unsaved, Romans 8:28 is a rock solid hope of the Christian. What a promise! God says as long as you try to put him first, “everything” that comes into your life will turn out to be a blessing. This promise is one that I have seen fulfilled so many times in my early Christian life that I have learned to pull it out like a sword to fight against doubt, fear, and worry in times of trials. I remember many times where jobs wouldn’t work out, and the stress and disappointment would cause me to cry out in pain and anguish. I would actually yell at God, “Why?” Now I am able to see that it is quite obvious in hindsight why. Whether for the experiences I needed later in ministry or opportunity of professional advancement, God knew what He was doing.
If you put God first, then this promise is all encompassing. Even the worst of things God will make into good, if we continue to hold onto Him. Have I always seen pain and anguish in my life turn into fairytale blessings? Of course, not. But I have seen enough illustrations of this promise to have faith that God does not lie nor will He fail in this area. Do I always sing for joy in the trials of life and quote this verse with a stupid smile on my face? No! Many times I forget my life verse, and I panic, complain or scream in anger. But I am so grateful that God’s faithfulness is not dependent on my spiritual strength or my memory and recall. He continues to fulfill His promise. Like salvation, His grace many times covers my weakness.
There is one stipulation to this promise, though. We must continue to love God. We must put Him first, seek His will more than ours, and serve Him instead of self. We need to desire His will in our lives. If we refuse to love God as number one in our lives, we will find we forge our own path. Many times that valley we travel through is more pain and suffering. What I am thrilled about in this promise is that God’s grace and love shines through. Just as it is never too late to receive salvation, it is never too late to start this seeing this blessing. I have often made horrible mistakes in my life and paid with consequences. When I came to the Lord and sought forgiveness, He has even taken those mistakes and worked them to good. I don’t recommend paying the consequences first, but know this, it is never too late to turn your path to Jesus and let Him work all things to good.