Can I Get Unborn?

“Once saved, can’t we choose to reject Christ?” Someone asked this question at the Membership 101 Class. It illustrates how important a membership class is.

If someone believes a person can be saved, then unsaved, then saved again, all by the fickle act of our will, then there are other sincere followers of Christ who believe this too. Perhaps they don’t want to be a member of a Southern Baptist Church.  And that’s “OK.”

But, the “Security of the Believer” and “Perseverance of the Saints” are beliefs Southern Baptists cherish. We believe that once someone is saved then that person is always saved. We also believe that once a person is genuinely converted by Christ, that person will persevere in the faith.

Salvation is first and foremost an act of God, not of man:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 ESV
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37 ESV

Salvation is also an act of our “faith” and for “whoever comes” to Jesus, as the two verses above also reveal.

So, Jesus shows there is a conscious coming to Him, but also shows the security of the person who will never hunger or thirst again, never! He said:

I am the bread of life: whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. John 6:35

Certainly salvation requires an act of faith on our part.

But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. John 6:36

But once we believe, salvation does not depend on us being able to hold on to Him. Jesus said:

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. John 6:37

Jesus came only to do the Father’s will. And what is that will?

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

There is no work we can do to earn salvation, it is by God’s grace through an act of faith. Therefore, we can doing nothing to KEEP our salvation, it is an act of God.

The debate will go on, I’m sure, on this side of heaven. But here we stand: genuine believers are secure in Christ.

Children with Special Privileges

Quentin would die as a fighter pilot in World War I; Ted became a highly decorated soldier who saw service in both World Wars; Archie became a businessman; Kermit grew up to become an adventurer and soldier of fortune; and Ethel served as a nurse in France during World War I and later became involved with the Red Cross.

As children they had a very unique experience in common. They had access to the Oval Office of the President of the United States! Can you imagine?

They are the children of President Theodore Roosevelt and his wife, Edith . (See Photo)

As believers in Jesus Christ we have access to the throne room of God! We are the children of God through a second birth.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16 NLT

As a child of the King, we have special privileges.

1. We can come BOLDLY into God’s throne room at any time. This does not mean arrogantly, but confidently. We are his child!

2. We can receive MERCY when we mess up. We all mess up. With a genuine sorrow for the sin and full intent to turn from it we will receive his forgiveness and mercy.

3. We can find GRACE when we are weak, incapable, and need resources, which is just about all the time.  These grace-gifts are given freely to His children. We have not because we ask not.

Freedom to stroll into the Oval Office to consult with a sitting United States President seems like nothing compared to the privilege we actually do have to boldly enter God’s presence any time we choose!

Our Father, what an amazing privilege to write these words knowing you see and hear them. Thank-you we can come into your very throne room boldly and confidently as your child. Please have mercy on us in our sins. Please provide all we need to serve You effectively and faithfully.

Blind Faith

Faith is not blind.

The resurrected Jesus gave many proofs of his resurrection over a forty day period. (Acts 1:3)

Over 500 witnesses saw Jesus resurrected from the dead. (1 Corinthian 15:6) How would 500 eye witnesses hold up in a court of law?!

Unbelief is blind.

Unbelief is blind to the beginning of the Universe, the obvious design of our world, how human morality came to exist, and how human freewill is explained.

The evidence is so overwhelming, one would be blind not to believe.

I would rather not say that atheists have more faith than Christians do in order to believe no god exists. And I would rather not say we Christians have blind faith. Rather it is just the opposite! To not believe is a total disregard for the evidence. Unbelief is no faith at all.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Because of the consistency of Scripture, fulfilled prophecy, and changed lives of those who encounter Jesus, my faith is confident of a future I cannot see and gives me assurance of things God will reveal!

Our Father, thank-you for coming in the flesh that first Christmas! You proved your love for us by coming and telling us Yourself. Your overwhelming evidence motivates us to live in confident faith!

A New Whiz-bang-whatchamadoodle!

“Look what I got for Christmas!” she exclaimed. “See my new smart phone.  See my new coat.  See my new whiz-bang-whatchamadoddle!”

The new gizmo excited her so she wanted to tell her friends. Or was she bragging because her stuff cost more than their stuff?

Does receiving a gift give us the right to brag? After all, these are gifts. Gifts are given whether you deserve them or not. Right?

Or does the receiving of the gift depend on whether you’ve been “naughty or nice” as the famous song goes. The implication is that if you are nice, then you get gifts, but if you are naughty, you don’t get gifts.

Our Christmas traditions of Santa Claus are fun with our kids and grandkids, but really work just the opposite of the gospel.

The gospel says we’ve all been naughty, no one is nice. We are so naughty we deserve the worst of punishments. We have all disobeyed with a rebellious heart the loving Creator and holy God of the universe!

So the true Christmas meaning is that the Son of God was born to become God’s GIFT of salvation and forgiveness.

We are totally undeserving. There’s nothing we can do to earn this gift. We don’t get it by being nice.

It is a gift in the truest sense of the word. Only by a pure act of God’s grace do we receive this gift of salvation.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV

Our Father, our appreciation for sending your Son Jesus on that first Christmas cannot be expressed fully by our words. So look into our hearts and see the humble gratitude for the greatest gift of all. We praise you and you alone for providing what we did not deserve and could not provide for ourselves.

 

Look Out the Window

Take-off was a rush! I never dreamed that the initial thrust would set me back into my seat the way it did. In no time we were off the ground quickly gaining altitude.

As an adult I experienced my first ride on a commercial passenger plane. I felt like a kid. The thrill of take-off put butterflies in my stomach.

Then came the view! I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the patchwork below me. Seeing things from thousands of feet above the earth gives a whole new perspective!

I thought to myself, “God sees the world like this all the time, yet he knows me personally!”

Our Father always has the big picture perspective for our lives, disasters, sins, set-backs, diseases, and celebrations.

Jeremiah told his countrymen who had just been carried off to captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We often see this verse on plaques . It is certainly an encouraging verse. It is one I meditate on when I get discouraged.

But the context is a horrible situation of defeat and exile! Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 in a letter to settle in, build homes, have lots of children and grandchildren, and make the city prosperous and peaceful, because you will be there a long time, seventy years!

Are you going through a disaster or an exile now? Perhaps your disaster has already lasted a long time. Or maybe it is just beginning.

Remember God has the 35,000 feet view even though you can’t seem to see 3 feet in front of you. God’s really does have the big picture.

Honor and love your Father in Heaven in the middle of your chaos. He indeed knows the plans He has for you! He wants your good, not disaster.  So whether He delivers next week, years down the road, or in heaven, He will come through! The LORD is still your hope!

Look out the window.

Our Father, thank-you for the hope, assurance, and confidence that you never lose control of this universe, this world, and the circumstances of our lives. Fill us with hope in the midst of our exiles. Help us to live faithful lives honoring You inside our disasters.

T – R – O – U – B – L – E

Billie Sue’s grandfather, Lex Smith, loved to do word puzzles in his retirement years. He would sit for hours filling in the squares with letters.

In the those last days, he would spell the same word out loud over and over again. I can still hear him saying the letters again and again.

“T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”  “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.” “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”

I’m not sure why he got stuck on that one word. But he did.

Jesus talked about “trouble” too.

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 HCSB

We can get stuck on tomorrow’s trouble too.  Jesus knows our tendencies. How easy it is for us to get focused on something that might or might not happen tomorrow. In doing so, we miss living today to the fullest!

Yes, tomorrow will come with its trouble, but why live it today in our minds before it actually happens? Plus, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We could end up worrying about things that will never happen anyway!

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you. Worry sneaks into my thoughts when I don’t stay focused on the truth of God’s Word and His Son Jesus.

So, how do we do that?!

Remember the verse just before verse 34? Verse 34 begins with “Therefore.” So what is it “there for”? The solution and a very familiar verse:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 HCSB

All those “things” we worry about God provides for us if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.  First? Yes, instead of first worrying about things, we seek God’s kingship and righteousness first.

Someone observed, “Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday.”

Worry is all about putting “things” first instead of God’s will. Remember Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 HCSB

How do we “seek first the kingdom of God?” We seek to do His will on earth today! That’s an all-encompassing focus that takes up all our attention today. When we focus on doing His kingdom work today, we are not focused on the “things” that will “trouble” us tomorrow.

Jesus is in the life-changing business!

Our Father, we confess our sins of worry and ask your forgiveness. Thank-you that we don’t need to worry. The “things” of this world are temporary.  Your word and kingdom will last forever! We ask for your ever-present Spirit to teach to live by faith, not by worry.

Mighty Mouse, Superman, & the Road Runner

Cartoons fascinated me as a child. The make-believe world of animated characters, creatures, and super-human stunts still grab the attention of my grandchildren today.

Does anyone remember the Roadrunner dropping an anvil on the coyote? Or do you remember Mighty Mouse flying through the air at supersonic speed and punching the villain in the nose?

I vividly remember as a child wishing there really was a Superman or a Mighty Mouse to come at just the right moment and rescue people from their impossible circumstances!

This morning I read this wonderful promise:

God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. Psalm 18:30

It was written by David in praise to God when God rescued him from Saul and his army. But the description David gives of God rescuing him would be a challenge for any animator.

Check this out this imagery in Psalm 18:

Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth. Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind.
11 He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him and rained down hail and burning coals.
13 The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded amid the hail and burning coals.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
15 Then at your command, O Lord, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

The Holy Spirit inspired David to write this! We have our hero!  We have our rescuer! He is our Lord!  He is our God. Whether He rescues us from our here-and-now circumstances of life as He did with David or He rescues us ultimately in heaven, He is our hero!!!

Our Father, thank-you when you rescue us, heal us, or get us out of the messes we or someone else make. You are a great and awesome God beyond our imagination. Fill us with faith today in You. Whether our enemy is a physical illness, a human terrorist, an Ebola, a spiritual attack, or a discouragement, please give us the faith of David to face it knowing You are always with us.