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How do you know that you know Him?

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Did you know that there is a fool proof test in the Bible for proving whether or not we know God? Yes, there really is and it’s found in 1st John 2:3.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

Wait, surely it can’t be that simple, can it? Just keeping His commandments means I know God? Yes, that’s exactly what it means and it really is that simple. If we know Him, we will keep his commandments. John goes on to explain this in a bit more detail in verses 5 and 6.

But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

So if we keep His word (commandments), God’s love is perfected in us and we have full assurance that we are His. Furthermore, as God’s love is perfected in us those things that are not pleasing to Him fall off of us, enabling us to walk in the Spirit just as our Lord did.

Pretty simple, wouldn’t you agree? If we love God, we will do what he said to do. Easy Peasy!

Now, if you’re following along you may have noticed that I skipped verse 4. That was because verse 4 proves something entirely different than verse 3 does. In fact, verse four is often skipped entirely by those who are responsible for proclaiming the whole counsel of God. The reasons for that are many, but suffice it to say that in the ears of many today, verse 4 is considered harsh and unloving. See if you agree.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Ummm….can someone say “OUCH”!

How about we do a comparison, OK? Verse 3 tells us that if we keep His commandments, we are one of God’s children and know Him. Verse 4 says that if we say we know Him but do NOT keep his commandments, we do not know Him because we are a liar.

I’m certain that a great many people would find it offensive to be called out in such a manner. After all, isn’t the common response something along the lines of “you don’t know my heart, so how can you say such a horrible thing” when we are challenged?

But you, see, that’s just it. None of us can see inside another’s heart. None of us can judge the motives of others. Besides, that really isn’t what God has told any of us to do, despite what some may think. Yet God’s word bypasses all of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how do you knows’ by simply breaking it down to whether or not we are keeping God’s word and living accordingly.

I don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems to me that in this day when what used to be wrong is now right and what used to be right is now wrong, something as simple as ” Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” is pretty refreshing.

Actually, the reason I’m writing this post is because of a personal desire to reconnect with a common, simple faith. A faith void of superlatives, outlandish claims, unreasonable (and unbiblical) expectations, and a host of man-made requirements. In short, the farther down the down-grade (to quote Spurgeon) the church appears to be headed, the more inclined I am to hold fast to the basic, simple truths of scripture.

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 ESV

Have a blessed day everyone!

Ron

Some days I just need a reminder

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I don’t know about you dear friend, but every one in a while I need to be reminded of Heaven. When the sin and evil that permeates this world seems to have taken center stage and few if any dare raise their voices in protest, I need to be reminded that it won’t always be this way.

When the government passes legislation that effectively places the Scripture in the category of hate speech while essentially redefining the definition of male and female, I need to be reminded that the very God who created them male and female will ultimately judge those who dare to corrupt His creation. [1] [2]

When I see and hear actors and actresses receive yet another award for their incredible “gifts” to humanity all while blaspheming the name of the Lord when they exercise their craft, I need a gentle reminder that these are the sons and daughters of darkness. They are not to be idolized or worshiped, they are to be looked upon with pity and compassion for they are lost and in danger of eternal damnation.

Sometimes, I just need to go back and read Revelation chapter four again. I need a reminder of the fact that there exists a throne in heaven, and the One that sits upon the throne is the Lord of all. I need to be reminded of what John saw when he looked beyond the open door, for what John saw is what all of God’s children will see.

I need a reminder that the way things are now will one day be no more. That there exists a place where Holiness and Righteousness aren’t just words, but reality. A place where worship comes from the heart, and praise is heard day and night for ever and ever.

The Throne Room of Heaven: Revelation chapter four.

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:

“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”

Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:

“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”

This, my friends, is where I long to be. Heaven, the dwelling place of God, surrounded by an innumerable company of angels as well as the saints who have already gone before me.

Some days, I just need a reminder…

Have a blessed evening,

Ron

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/5

[2] Genesis 1:27, 5:2

A Fresh Perspective

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Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26

Psalm 73 has to be one of my favorites because it points to the fact that as a child of God, it is normal to question, to wonder, and yes, to doubt. The writer of this Psalm, Asaph, struggled greatly over the fact that while he was doing his best to serve God, the wicked were seemingly enjoying a continuous state of prosperity. This caused him no small amount of doubt, dismay, and confusion, as I’m sure it does with you and I today when it appears as though the “rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.

To better understand his perspective, it’s important to know a little bit about Asaph. He was was from the priestly tribe of the Levites, and was one of the three men that David had put in charge of the singing part of their worship. In today’s religious circles he would be called a worship leader or a song leader. [1]

Despite his position and his loving relationship with the Lord, it did not prevent him from feeling as though he was getting the short end of the stick. While he was doing his best for the Lord, it appeared to Asaph that the wicked were living better than he was. In other words, if the wicked were prospering while at the same time living life on their own terms, why should he continue to walk the straight and narrow if the wicked were also being rewarded?

Have you ever felt this way? Have you been the person at work who is known for always taking the high road, for example, only to see someone of questionable conduct or character get the promotion? It happens all the time, doesn’t it? It’s enough to make you question what in the world is going on here, or at least say along with Asaph ” Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain“. [2]

Just like Asaph, when we feel unfairly taken advantage of or somehow slighted, questions and doubts begin to formulate in our minds. Our flesh, being what it is, causes us to be envious of the wicked who appear to be rewarded for their deeds, leaving us to wonder about the injustice of it all. Asaph himself said that he was envious of the boastful when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. [3]

The reality is that we live in a fallen world, a world of hurt, pain, and injustice. A world where what is fair and just has been supplanted with undeserved accolades being heaped upon the enemies of those who desire to do good and to follow God. In essence, the world seems to have done a 180 when it comes to what it considers right and wrong, just and unjust. Evil, it would seem, is rewarded while Godliness is reviled in our world today.

All of this of course was spoken about in the Scriptures, so no one should be surprised that it is occurring now. The truth is, none of this is new. It’s been happening for as long as man has inhabited this earth. Even Jesus said that the rain fell upon the just and the unjust. [4]

Still, believers are no strangers to doubts and struggles. After all, we have very real emotions, emotions that can get the best of us at times. It’s important then to remember that we are not robots, programmed to act and feel according to a preset narrative. 

Who doesn’t have ups and downs in their walk with the Lord? Like many of you, I can attest to the fact that sometimes our faith is strong and sometimes it is weak. There are times when we look at the world and it has no attraction for us. Other times it seems that we can’t stop looking and admiring the things of the world. Our humanity dictates that there will be times of strength and times of weakness.

Asaph allowed the seeming prosperity of the wicked to nearly shipwreck his faith. He describes how that in trying to make sense of it all that it became too painful for him. [5] We’re like that too, aren’t we? We can become so fixated on what others have or are doing that it consumes our every thought, causing us to lose sight of the big picture. Focusing on the perceived wrongdoings of others blinds us to the reality that God is the only one qualified to make righteous judgements.

It wasn’t until Asaph went into the sanctuary that God gave him understanding in the matters that were so troubling to him.  It was then that he saw that the end of the wicked was certain destruction. Yes, the wicked certainly do prosper in this life, we see it every day, but what really matters concerning them is the same thing that matters to the righteous: where will eternity be spent?

You might say that when Asaph went to church, he received a fresh perspective on things!

Once God enlightened Asaph regarding the end of the wicked, his heart was grieved and his mind was vexed at how foolish he had been not to trust that the Lord had all of this under control. It wasn’t until after he had entered the sanctuary and enquired of God that he was able to speak the words at the top of this post.

So what’s the lesson in all of this? Well, I think there are many things we can take away from this Psalm, but I want to highlight just three of them:

  1. While it is perfectly normal for us to question the injustice of wicked people prospering while the righteous suffer lack, such things are not for us to judge. God alone is righteous, therefore it is He who determines the fate of us all. This, of course, requires much faith on our part, as well as the strength to focus on our own particular calling.
  2. Sometimes the simple truth is that we need to take things to God in prayer. All of our mental wrangling over things that are beyond our ability to comprehend are best given to God. We can lay awake at night, tormented by a thousand “why’s”, only to have the sun rise upon them the next morning with nothing having been resolved. As Asaph learned, God has a different and higher perspective than we are capable of, and we can save ourselves much anguish by simply letting go of things that are outside of our own lane.
  3. Because it is a normal thing to question and doubt at times, we should use the lesson of Asaph to encourage other Christians when they too have struggles and doubts. This is far better than for us to haphazardly judge them, especially as we see so many struggling today.

I hope that you will take a few minutes today and read the 73rd Psalm in its entirety. In it you will find the answer to one of life’s greatest mysteries. I don’t know about you, but from time to time I need to see things from a fresh perspective.

Have a blessed day,

Ron

[1] 1st Chronicles 15: 17 [2] Psalm 73:13 [3] Psalm 73:3 [4] Matthew 5:45 [5] Psalm 73:16