Are You Producing the Fruits of Your Faith?

Are You Producing the Fruits of Your Faith?

Have you ever heard the phrase “catch-22”? It usually means there is a problem that has a solution that is prohibited by the problem itself.  An example of this would be, if you need glasses to see, and you lose your glasses, now you can’t find them because you need you need your glasses to look for them

Not exactly in the same vain as a “catch-22”, but a puzzle nonetheless, is this theological problem: We cannot be saved with good works, but neither can we be saved without good works.  How can this even be possible? The Bible clearly says we are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9).  This is true, but it also says that faith without works is dead (James 2:17).  So how can this be, is this just one of those contradictions people say are in the Bible? Not at all, there are no contradictions in the Bible.  Actually, we can be saved without good works—we saw this example when Jesus was on the cross and the thief on the cross who died immediately after placing his faith in Christ (Luke 23:43).  As a rule, good works are evidence of our faith.  If you are a true Christian then when you became a born again true Christian, you were given a new heart and that heart has the desire to do as Jesus did and to love others, to produce the fruit of the Spirit.  If you are not living this life style and producing these fruits, then this is where you need to take a good look in the mirror and evaluate whether you truly are saved or you are just saying you are? This work and lifestyle is a sign that our faith is alive and well (Ephesians 2:10).

We should look regularly—examine ourselves—for the fruits of our faith.  (2 Corinthians 13:5)

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Michael’s Monday Meditations

MICHAEL’S MONDAY MEDITATIONS, MON., 9/21/2015

TRUTH

(excerpt from The Christian in Complete Armour, by William Gurnall, circa 1655) The Christian’s Spiritual Girdle —

“ESTABLISHED JUDGMENT IN THE TRUTHS OF CHRIST
Since Satan comes as a serpent concealed in false teachers and tries to deceive us with error for truth, every Christian needs an established judgment in the truths of Christ. The Bereans studied Scripture to satisfy their judgments concerning the doctrine Paul preached. They refused to believe anything he had said before they ‘searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so’ (Acts 17:11). They took the preacher’s doctrine straight to the written word and compared it to that; and the result was ‘therefore many of them believed’ (v. 12). As the Bereans dared not believe before, they could not help but believe now.

Tertullian described the preaching of heretics like this: ‘They teach by persuading, and do not by teaching persuade.’ That is, they court the emotions of their hearers without convincing their judgment. For instance, it would be hard for an adulterer to convince his companion that her prostitution is lawful. Instead, he works another way: by romantic overtones and appeal to the flesh. The question of law is soon forgotten. Judgment is easily and quickly absorbed by burning lust.

Thus error, like a thief, comes in through the window; yet truth, like the owner of the house, enters at the door of understanding, and from there moves into the conscience, will and affections. The man who finds and professes truth before he understands its excellency and beauty cannot fully appreciate the worth of its heavenly birth and descent. A prince travelling in disguise is not honored because people do not realize who he is. Truth is loved and prized only by those who recognize it and know it personally.

If we do not desire to know truth we have already rejected it. It is hard to cheat a person out of truth if he does not know what he has. Truth and error are all the same to the ignorant man and so he call everything truth. Have you heard about the covetous man who constantly hugged his many bags of gold? He never opened them or used the treasure, and thus when a thief stole the gold and left his bags full of pebbles in his room, he was as happy as when he still had the gold.”

Michael Swanson's photo.
Michael Swanson's photo.
Michael Swanson's photo.
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Are You Worried About Things in Your Life?

Are You Worried About Things in Your Life?

Worry can lead to stress and being easily angered which then lead to many other bad physical and mental situations.  But what effect does it have on your spirit and your relationship with God?  If you look at the Bible you will find that worry is considered to be quite serious and when we put together all these points in the Bible we find that worry results in a serious conclusion: That conclusion is that worry is viewed as sin; sin is not pleasing to God; sin separates us from God and from being able to grow in our relationship with Him, it can keep God from working in our life.

Many times throughout the Bible Jesus addressed this issue of worry and doubt, “O you of little faith: to describe people who were worried about the future: their physical needs (Matthew 6:30), their physical safety (Matthew 8:26), their inability to find a solution to a problem (Matthew 14:31), and their lack of resources for ministry (Matthew 16:8).  Every time Jesus would address this and saw that people were worried about their circumstances, Jesus linked their worry to a lack of faith.  In Hebrews we see the writer say that “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), Paul also wrote that “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).  Worry is not from faith, so a lifestyle of worry is certainly not pleasing to God. It is sin and shows that we really do not trust God. Let me assure you we can trust God, He has proven His integrity and trustworthiness time and time again.

If you tend to worry about things, go to God and confess your sin to God and ask Him to help you and put your faith in Him (Philippians 4:6-7).

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Pray and Trust God for Victory

Pray and Trust God for Victory

In 2 Chronicles 20, we see Jehoshaphat and the nation of Israel had to make a defining decision.  They were about to be attacked by two of their enemies that they could not withstand.  There was no way to escape and victory was impossible.

What did Jehoshaphat?  He did not even hesitate, he know his only power was from God, so immediately he told the nation of Israel to fast and pray.  All of Israel did just as Jehoshaphat told them to do and they came to God humbly, and prayed this prayer:

O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. …For we have no power to face the vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you (2 Chronicles 20:6, 12).

Have you ever been in such a situation that you had no hope?  This is just where Israel was! They turned their hearts to God with prayer and praise and this is just what we should all do, don’t wait until you are in a situation that seems hopeless but go to God always.  God will respond He is faithful and you can trust Him, He will respond to you just as He did to Israel. His answer came quickly:

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you… Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you (2 Chronicles 20:17).

Jehoshaphat and Israel marched the next morning with a song of praise to Almighty God.  God confused their enemies to such a degree that the Israelites never had to fire one single arrow.

Satan hates to hear words of praise and to see us trust the Lord.  He knows he is defeated every time we trust God.  Are you trusting praising God for His presence and power in your life?

If not, isn’t it about time to start?

It is not by your power that you achieve anything but only by God’s power. You may think it is your own doing but the Mighty God of the universe is in control of everything even when you think He is not. God is greater than anything that could ever come against you.  Trust Him!

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Stand Strong and Never Give Up

Stand Strong and Never Give Up

When Paul was teaching in Athens, he was given a great opportunity to spread the Truth of God to an audience of Greek philosophers who had no interest in what Paul was saying.  That did not stop Paul, no, as he stood on Mars Hill he proclaimed the Word of God.

However, after Paul taught this group of non-believers, he became emotionally shaken. Paul wanted all these people to not only hear what he was saying but truly understand and come to Jesus Christ, but the response was not that at all!

As Paul sailed for Corinth (Acts 18), he was having a difficult time and was feeling deep discouragement, and God knew it. This is no different with us, when we are in a situation that we begin to feel worry, doubt or discouragement, just remember God knows it.  The important part here is what did God do?  He spoke words of encouragement to Paul and He will do the same for you! I guarantee it you just have to listen.  I do want to add one thing here, and that is to have this conversation with God and begin a good relationship you must be a true Christian, otherwise God will not hear your prayer, the only prayer that He will hear if you are not His child is one of repentance!  Here is what God said to Paul:

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city (Acts 18:9-10).

In other words, “Paul, you ae not alone. I am right here with you and I know exactly what is going on and I know exactly how to deal with it, just trust and believe Me”.

Paul realized the key to success was not human strength or ability but faith in an unshakeable God.  His responsibility was to be obedient and do what God had told him to do.

Though Paul fought feelings of fear and discouragement just as we all do, Paul knew God was and is in control of everything, every heart, every mind and every circumstance.

Worry, doubt, and fear about the future only lead to stress and becoming uneasy and in turn they will push you away from God and His blessings. Trust God right where you are and He will bless you, work on your relationship with Him, that is what God wants, a personal relationship with you!

Give all that you are over to the Lord, your work, your talents, your heart, those you love. Ask Him to fill you with strength to do His work, and be obedient.  He will never let you down.

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What is a Christian? part 9

What is a Christian? part 9

Today we finish our series on What is a Christian? Enjoy!

What then, in summary, is a Christian? A Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God. A Christian is a person who has been deeply convicted by the Holy Spirit of his own unworthiness before God and of his desperate need of God’s mercy. A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is the God-man who came into the world to be the only Savior and Substitute of sinners. A Christian is a person who has genuinely repented of his sins and savingly believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. He has actually looked unto Jesus Christ for salvation and called upon Jesus Christ for salvation.

Having seen the clear teaching of Scripture on the essence of Christianity, I want to press home a very personal question at this point—can you honestly say that you are a Christian? Remember the essence of Christianity is not any of the things that we mentioned at the beginning of this booklet. We have seen from the Bible which is the only book to which we can turn for an answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” that these are false answers. If you have been clinging to these illusions about Christianity, turn from them to believe what the Bible has to say in answer to the question, “What is a Christian?” Turn from your own opinions and the opinions of others to the infallible Word of God “which is able to make you wise unto salvation which is by faith in Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 3:15). Ask God to impress upon you your own unworthiness and to reveal to you his Son Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save all sinners who would come to him. Call upon his name to save you now, for his promise is that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Ask him to forgive your sins, thank him for dying in the place of lost sinners, confess Jesus Christ before men as the Lord and Sovereign of your life and be assured that if you have sincerely done this or will do this, you may stand up before God and men and confess, “by the all availing and powerful blood of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has now worked in my life, I am a Christian.”

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What is a Christian? part 8

What is a Christian? part 8

The Christian, however, is not simply a person who has turned from sin; he is a person who has turned to Jesus Christ in faith. The Bible says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). When a person turns from something, he either does it because he has already turned to something or because he wants to turn to something. The sinner does exactly that. He turns from sin to holiness; from self to the Savior. Repentance is turning from and faith is turning to. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Repentance is the negative aspect and faith is the positive aspect. You may be sure that a person has not truly believed unless he has repented; nor has a person truly repented unless he has believed on Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Well, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ means to trust in or rely upon Christ alone for salvation. The Bible declares, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life;” “He that believeth on him is not condemned” (John 3:36; John 3:18). Notice the words “believeth on”—not simply “believeth in.” To believe on involves reliance upon; it involves resting your weight on Christ. It involves commitment to Jesus Christ. Commitment is the crowning element of saving faith. Commitment is simply a giving of oneself to Jesus. This is well illustrated in the physical realm when a patient actually submits to the operating surgeon by undergoing an anesthetic, thus literally putting his life into the doctor’s hands. So, also, when a sinner puts himself into the hands of the great physician, Jesus Christ, calling upon him to heal him of the deadly disease of sin, he trusts the Savior and the Savior alone for salvation. This is the exercise of saving faith; and all degrees short of the element of commitment are not saving faith. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing simply that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my mist, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence, of saving faith lies in this—a casting of myself on Jesus Christ. It is not the life buoy on board the ship that saves the man when he is drowning, nor is It his belief that It is an excellent and successful invention. No! He must have it around his loins or his hand upon it or else he will sink. Thus it is with saving faith. We must actually commit ourselves unto Jesus, body, soul, and spirit.

One preacher has illustrated saving faith in this manner. Imagine that a fire breaks out in the home where a young boy is asleep on the upper floor. The boy’s father and mother wake up and get all the children out but somehow they miss little Billy. They don’t realize that he is still in the building until they are all outside. Then the horrible truth dawns on them as they gather their children around and find Billy missing. The father tries to go back into the house to rescue his little boy, but he is blocked by a sheet of flame which he cannot get through. Meanwhile Billy wakes up and smells the smoke. He opens the bedroom door and is met by a wall of fire which makes it impossible for him to get downstairs. He closes the door and runs to the window. He looks down at the concrete three stories below. If he stays where he is, he will be burned to death. If he jumps, he will be dashed to pieces. It looks hopeless until his father sees him, holds out his arms and shouts, “Jump, Billy, I will catch you.” Billy knows that his father is strong enough to catch him, but does that make him safe? Billy knows his father loves him and is willing to catch him but does that make him safe? Billy not only knows his father is willing and able to catch him but that his father is pleading with him to jump, but does that make him safe? None of these things will save him unless he trusts his father enough to jump. If Billy will not commit himself to his father’s arms, he will perish.

Saving faith does merely involve knowing that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh who came into the world to save sinners by perfectly keeping the law for them and by offering himself as an all sufficient sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary. It does not merely involve knowing that Jesus Christ is able to save, nor that Jesus Christ is willing to save. A person may know all of this and still perish. Saving faith involves the actual casting of myself upon Jesus Christ and trusting him alone for my own salvation. When the Philippian jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30, 31).

In another place the apostle Paul said, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation… . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9, 10, 13). It is not enough to believe about Jesus Christ, we must believe on and in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must cease from trusting in our own goodness, our own works of righteousness, our own baptism or church membership, our own keeping the law of God and rest completely upon the Lord Jesus Christ who is the all sufficient Savior of sinners. We must cease from our “do it yourself,” “make up your own mind,” “run your own life” attitudes and acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the Lord of our lives. We must commit ourselves wholly and unreservedly to Jesus Christ for time and eternity. Jesus said, “And whosoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27). This every true Christian has done. He has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

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What is a Christian? part 7

What is a Christian? part 7

When Christ died on the cross, He paid the debt of our sin. Christ, however, did not remain in the tomb. He is the mighty God and on the third day He arose from the dead.

This every true Christian believes. He believes that Jesus Christ is God and man united in one person who went to the cross to die in the stead of sinners and then rose again that sinners might be justified.

Fourthly, the Bible teaches that the Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who saves. The faith and the repentance of the Christian do not save him. The Christian recognizes that his faith and repentance do not merit him the favor of God. He comes to God saying,

“Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hands I bring,
simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

But while the Christian realizes that his repentance and faith do not merit him the favor of God, he still recognizes that faith and repentance (which are gifts of God) are the means by which that salvation becomes his own personal experience and possession. Jesus Christ said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son.” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the Gospel.” “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance unto remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem” (John 3:18, 36; 10:25, 26; Luke 13:3; 5:32; Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 3:19,26; 10:36-43; 11:18; 17:30; 20:17-21; 26:19,20; Revelation 3:17-20).

The Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to repent? To repent “is to be sorry for sin and to hate and forsake it because it is displeasing to God.” True repentance involves sorrow for sin and a hatred of sin—both internal and external sin—a sorrow for what I am, as well as what I do—for the corruption of my heart as well as the perversity of my conduct—for the attitudes which prompt the actions as well as the actions themselves. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me, for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5). The publican prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The thief on the cross said to the other thief who was mocking Jesus: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed are condemned justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:40, 41; II Corinthians 7:9-11; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:18; Psalm 119:104; Ezekiel 20:43).

True repentance involves sin. It involves not only a change of attitude toward sin but also a change of action in regard to sin. The Bible says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Furthermore, true repentance involves sorrow for sin and a forsaking of sin because it is displeasing to God. The person who is truly repentant doesn’t sorrow over sin and forsake it just because he is afraid of the consequences, but primarily because he has displeased God. This grieves him and causes him to turn from sin. More than anything else the truly repentant person wants the smile and the favor of God. He hates sin and forsakes it because he knows that God hates sin (Ezekiel 36:25-32; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 15:18; Psalm 51:1-12; Luke 22:59-62). The true Christian has repented of his sin. He is sorry for his sin. He hates his sin and he is constantly forsaking his sin because it is displeasing to God. Unless a person has done this, he has no right to believe that he is a Christian. Jesus said, “Except ye repent; ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

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