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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

Why can’t we just love on Jesus?

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That was the question my sweet wife asked me the other day.

So, we were having yet another discussion about spiritual things (notice I didn’t say ‘a spiritual discussion’!), which is a common topic at our house. The combination of me being in ministry and her being a pastor’s kid tends to tilt the conversations in that direction a lot of the time.

What I didn’t realize however was how critical I was sounding. That is until my wife stopped my ranting and said this to me:

“Instead of focusing on things that you think are so negative, why can’t we just spend an hour or so loving on Jesus? Why isn’t He our sole focus”?

Now just in case I haven’t mentioned this in a while on this blog, I am forever thankful that God brought my wife and I together. She has been a loving, steady, and positive influence on my life, and without her I would have never known that such a deep love could exist. If ever a woman was heaven sent, it is her, and she alone has my undying love and devotion.

Well, her comments stopped me in my tracks. I’m not sure if my mouth flew open, but it should have. In an instant, my heart was crushed over my negative attitude and critical spirit.

How does this happen to us so quickly?

My mind began to race as I thought of so many scriptures that tell us where our focus should be directed. In Micah 6:8 for example, we are given clear instructions in what is expected of a child of God.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

Nothing there speaks of being critical or negative. What it does tell me is to walk humbly with the Lord. If I do that, He will take care of all the petty details that seem to overwhelm us at times.

If you take a moment to think about it, it’s amazing how different our perspectives can be when we humble our heart before God. Just as amazing I suppose is how we can allow our hearts to become so callous.

In Matthew 22:37 we hear Jesus telling people to ‘love God with all their hearts, minds, and souls’. I don’t see a lot of room for criticism there either, do you?

If we love God with all our heart, mind, and soul, that doesn’t leave any room for doubt, criticism, or complaining does it? Seriously, if we love God in such a manner why would we want to be critical?

How could we be?

 In chapter five of Revelation we find Jesus as the center of adoration and worship from the 24 elders as well as millions of angels. Do you know why there is worship of Jesus in heaven?

Because He is worthy.

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”   Rev. 5:11,12

This Lamb who was slain is Jesus Christ, and the host of heaven declares Him to be worthy of adoration, worship, honor, and praise.

If heaven declares Him worthy of all of that, who am, or who are we to say even one word to the contrary, or one word that might be construed as being critical?

As my wife asked me…” why can’t we just love on Jesus”?

So, knowing what I know, I must do what I always must do…pray for His forgiveness.

Heavenly Father forgive me for my critical spirit and lack of love for your Son Jesus. You alone are worthy to be praised. Your word teaches me not to allow any corrupt communication to come from my lips, and I have stumbled in doing so. Anything less than my highest praise and worship of You O Lord is corrupt, and I offer up the prayer that David did: “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me”. Amen.

Be blessed on this Lord’s day,

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

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Over the next several days I am going to be sharing my thoughts about The Beatitudes. Like many of you, I love these rich teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, and their application to our lives is as real today as they were to the crowd gathered on the side of a Galilean mountain nearly 2000 years ago.

My sincere hope is that these basic, foundational truths as taught by Jesus will give us pause to spend time reflecting on what is most important. I have found in my own life, for example, that there are times when I just need to step back, slow down, and revisit the basics from this sermon. It’s kind of like when your GPS needs to reorient itself, if that makes any sense to you.

Found in Matthew’s gospel, chapter five, the Beatitudes contain some of the richest teachings of Jesus, giving us a very concise revelation of God’s principles for how to live our lives in a manner most pleasing to him.

The Beatitudes all begin with the key word “Blessed”. This word, as spoken by Jesus, indicates a fullness, or spiritual well-being coupled with an inner sense of joy and peace.  His love, caring, and daily presence in our lives is meant to give us a sense of contentment, or what we might call blessed.

It is important to note that the “Blessed” that Jesus speaks of here is not referring to the modern “churchianity” interpretation of the word that centers around prosperity or wealth. Jesus is not saying to those on the mountain side that they will all be getting a new camel in their driveway if they toss a few shekels in the offering.

No, Jesus is teaching about an entirely different kind of blessed.

With that being said, I’d like to dive into the Beatitudes in the order they are written, beginning with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

When we see or hear the word “poor”, most of us automatically assume a condition of lack. That is because we typically think of the poor primarily in terms of money or worldly possessions. While that may be true, there are other types of poverty, such as being spiritually or morally poor or bankrupt.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very interesting that Jesus used the words poor and blessed together. Today we would call that an oxymoron, because we cannot comprehend how someone who is poor would also be blessed at the same time. They just don’t go together.

Or do they?

Because Jesus was not referring to wealth and possessions, these two words fit together like a glove when you consider that the poor he is referring to are those who are humble before God. They understand that on their own they have nothing to give in exchange for being granted access to the kingdom of heaven. They need help!

People who are “poor in spirit” are not arrogant or puffed up within themselves. They know that if there is any good in them, it is because of the Jesus that dwells within them. They are not self-sufficient but dependent upon the Lord. Self-righteousness is not a part of their DNA.

The question then is why are they called blessed?

They are blessed because they have had their eyes and hearts opened to one of the greatest truths ever revealed to man: the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

This blessing from Jesus tells the poor in spirit that “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Again, his focus is not on material poverty, but upon the condition of the hearers heart. If you really think about what Jesus is saying here, you come to the conclusion that the kingdom of heaven is made up entirely of those who are poor in spirit and have a contrite heart.

The message that Jesus is teaching here in the beginning of his sermon is clear. If anyone is to inherit the kingdom of heaven they must become poor in spirit, which requires a repentant heart. Those who humble themselves and declare their need of a Savior, to them is given the kingdom of heaven.

There is no other way to get there!

Up next is “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”

Until then, be blessed and have a great day!

Ron

 

 

While America Rages Within…

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God is still calling…

Still drawing us by the power of the Holy Spirit…

Still reaching out to this lost world…

In the midst of a world gone crazy, He has not given up on us…

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold”.   Matthew 24:12

While men grow colder and more distant, there is a God who asks us to simply surrender…

To surrender our will and take up our cross daily…

To follow Him…

Is your desire to know Him more?

These are desperate times…

Are you desperate for Him?

These are times when we need God’s safety and security…

While America is on the verge of imploding…

Here I am, down on my knees again…

Surrendering…