Easter · eternal · salvation

Our Best Efforts

Yesterday was a challenging day in my 4’9″ world!  When I ran into the grocery to buy a container of sour cream, it was inside a cooler refrigerator on the TOP shelf…and the front of the box was empty!  That meant I had to R-E-A-C-H on my tip toes, pull the box forward and hope that a sour cream container in the back would slide into my hand.

It worked!

Then on to look at some fresh flowers.  On the TOP shelf was a pot of greenery I was interested in.  Using my resourceful short-person-skills, I got as tall as I could, pulled the green stem towards me and then the rest of the pot followed behind.  Mission accomplished.

I left the store and moved on to do some decorating at church.  When I got up to the storage place where our spring wreaths were hung, they were hanging as high as they could be, dangling from nails like a loose  tooth in a kindergartner’s mouth. No amount of stretching was going to get those wreaths down!  I looked around me for something long, and found a piece of metal  that I knew would do the trick.  I slid the metal under the top part of the wreath, lifted it and then lowered it into my waiting hands.

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As I thought back to each of those scenarios, I remembered that I had been offered help in each of those situations, but it came at the wrong time.  This short lady had already made her move and gotten the job taken care of!

All these efforts reminded me of a truth connected to Good Friday.  This is a day that reminds us of the death of Christ on the cross.  He died to take our place, paying in full the payment due our sins.  Before He died he uttered,

It is finished.

You see, He did everything necessary for us to be forgiven and to give to us eternal life.  Nothing is left for us to complete in order to gain salvation.  It was all done on the cross by the Lord Jesus.

Just as I refused the help from those who offered to assist me, people often ignore Christ’s perfect solution to their sin problem.  Many ignore His plea to take care of their sin debt, and reach up on tip toes for their best efforts – good works, humanitarian deeds or kind acts, thinking that will allow them to reach up to God’s high standard.  But their efforts are far less fruitful than a short person’s attempts to grasp out-of-reach items.  They will never attain God’s standard because it is holiness.  Only Christ was without sin.  He alone could reach what is necessary for us to be forgiven.  And when He steps in, He is always on time.

If you’ve never accepted His sacrifice for your sin, stop trying to step in with your best efforts, and realize that He’s done it all.  Your salvation is complete.  All you have to do is receive what has been accomplished on your behalf by acknowledging your sinfulness, and your need for Christ. Then turn your back on your sin and receive Him. 

Because of Him salvation is at hand!

Rejoicing in Good Friday and Easter morning,

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children · Easter · salvation · Uncategorized

Helping Children Understand Easter

Easter wreath 1.jpg

When I was eight years-old I made the most important decision of my life.  I received Christ as my personal Savior.  Ever since that day I have had the confidence that Christ paid the penalty of my sins and I am His!  I know I’ll spend eternity with Him – not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what Christ did for me.

That decision did more than give me a happy ending to my story!  It also gave me a Continue reading “Helping Children Understand Easter”

Heaven · salvation

Sweet Assurance

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Yesterday I watched a video from The Wilds Christian camp in New England.  My heart was so touched by the testimony of how many lives have been reached through its ministry in the nine years of its existence.  But the most compelling part of the video came at about a minute and 45 seconds in when I heard several testimonies from campers from this past summer.

My name is Abby and this week I got assured of my salvation.

My entire life, I considered myself a Christian, but this week God showed me I wasn’t, and I got truly saved.

On Tuesday I got saved because I realized that I needed Jesus and that I couldn’t do it without Him..

In all this world there are many things that we can know about, but the most important truth is to know where you will spend eternity when you die.  These young people made that decision based on God’s Word, and now they have the peace in their heart that when they die, or when Christ comes, they will spend eternity in heaven. I love hearing how the one young man thought he’d been saved, but then he learned the truth about what salvation really is and found out he wasn’t saved the Bible way!

The last testimony shared something that many people don’t understand.  Going to heaven isn’t based on our goodness, our works, or our ability to save ourselves.  It’s all based on what Christ did on the cross.

That is so opposite of a testimony I heard several months ago as I was listening to a Christian radio station.  The broadcaster had her grandson, around eleven or twelve on the air with her.  She asked him to share about a decision he’d made recently.  Here’s what he said,

Well, my grandpa died and I was really sad.  I know my grandpa is in heaven.  I figured the only way I’d ever see him again was to be saved, so I got saved, and now I know I’ll see Grandpa again.

Does that testimony make your jaw drop?  It should, because that is not true salvation.  The radio announcer/grandmother gushed and praised him for his decision.  But I cried out loud, “What decision?!  You see, being saved isn’t a form of escape or a shrugging of our shoulders to get a front row seat to a heavenly ball game we’re sure Grandpa is playing “up there.”

Making the decision to “be saved” is to be rescued by Christ’s death on the cross from the fate of our sin – which is eternal death and separation from God.  When we realize that we are sinners and there is nothing that we can do to save ourselves, we understand that our sin was transferred to Jesus when He took our punishment and He died on the cross to pay the penalty. He took our place to make us right before God that we could have eternal life with Him in heaven.  It’s with a broken and a contrite heart that we come to God to receive what Jesus did for us.  We don’t sign our names to join a church, or do as the radio testimony did and figure heaven is the better option.  We bow before a holy God, turn our back on our sin and receive His Son.

If the camera at that camp was on you, could you give testimony to the fact that you have received Christ as your personal Savior and you’re sure you’re on your way to heaven?  It’s the sweetest assurance to have in this life, because it will determine your eternal destiny.

If you’ve never trusted Christ, why not stop now and pray a prayer something like this,

God, I know that I’m a sinner and I deserve hell, but I believe that you sent Jesus to die in my place.  I repent of my sin and accept what Christ did for me on the cross.  Come into my life and save me.  I fully trust in You to cleanse my sin.  Help me to live for You and to have the courage to tell someone of this decision I’ve made today.  In Jesus name, Amen.

I’d sure love to rejoice with you if you accept Christ as your Savior!  Would you contact me using the email info in my Contact section here?  Don’t allow yourself to go through this life without this sweet assurance!

Lovingly,

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children · Motherhood · Parenting · salvation

What If Your Child Doubts Their Salvation?

You get in bed after an exhausting day and just after you get all cozy, your front door pops into your mind and you can’t remember if you locked it or not.  What will you do?  If you’re concerned about your security, you will step out of your comfortable spot to get up and check the lock.  It’s normal; we may have all done it at one time or another.

Your child was in your home and their young heart realized they were a sinner and they needed a Savior.  While your heart beat wildly with joy, you opened your Bible and showed them the verses in Romans about their sin,God’s love, what they deserve, and how to gain eternal life.  Then, in simple, child-like faith they prayed to receive Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf so they would have a relationship with God and a home in heaven.  And you never forgot that day because it was one you’d prayed for since the day they entered your world!

However, one day, in their teen years they went to a Bible preaching summer camp and heard a message about salvation that Christ offers, and about hell for those who refuse.  They have a foggy recollection of that decision they made when they were very young, but they’re unsure, and who wants to wonder if they’re ready for heaven?  They walk the aisle and make a decision to be saved.

Photo Credit – The Wilds

When they get home from camp, they share their decision with you and you’re startled.  What should you do?

  • First, remember the need for security and assurance.  If they had a doubt about their salvation, wouldn’t you rather they “check the lock” than to wonder about it all their life?
  • Rejoice with them.  Assure them that that’s the wisest decision to make because eternity is too long to regret.
  • Humble yourself and resist the urge to say, “I was the one who led you to the Lord!” Or, “I know you’re saved!”  It’s easy to feel a punch to our pride and feel wounded that we didn’t do a good enough job, but we must think the truth – we don’t do the saving!  Christ does!  If they’re doubting their salvation, then they don’t remember it.
  • Encourage them to record this decision in their Bible or journal.
  • Follow through with teaching them verses on security – for example,John 10:28 and  I John 5:13. Also teach them I John 1:9 – that when they sin, they haven’t lost their salvation, but they’ve lost fellowship. They need to confess the sin and forsake it to regain fellowship with the Lord.

Should the fact that a teen or adult might need to check the security of their decision urge us to discourage a young child from being saved?  Of course not!  It shows their tender heart.  They may never doubt their decision!  But if they do, let them “get up and check the door!”

One more thought here – let’s imagine that the doubting comes to your child at home and he asks you about it and wonders if he is really saved?  What should you do?  Rather than telling him what YOU remember about he day he trusted Christ, I would encourage a child in that situation to go ahead and make sure.  It won’t hurt to let them pray again!  Then, again, as above, teach them about eternal security we have in Christ, and remind them  of all Jesus did for them on the cross and His resurrection that assures us of ETERNAL life.

Has any reader needed to check your salvation’s security? 

Have these posts brought up any other questions about bringing your child to Christ?

Lovingly,

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children · eternal · evangelism · Family life · Heaven · Motherhood · salvation

What’s Wrong With With Waiting Until a Child Is Older To Be Saved?

“My five year-old has been asking us so many questions about salvation, and about asking Jesus to forgive their sins, but we’re putting him off right now, because we want to make sure he’s ready.”

I have heard that statement so many times and I can’t tell you how it saddens my heart.  I understand that the parent is fearful that the child won’t remember what he has done, and may have doubts later on, but as I mentioned in an earlier post here, I don’t have a problem with that at all.  Read the post to understand why.

However, I have three reasons why I believe it IS right to allow a child to pray to be saved when they bring up the need to you.

  1. Jesus said, Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not. Can it get any clearer?  Don’t hinder them from coming to Christ!  Bring them!  Encourage them to do so. You will be obeying Christ’s command.
  2. A child’s heart is soft when they ask to be saved, but it will harden as they get older.  Why run the risk of them turning away from the Lord?  What a tragedy it would be for a parent to put a child off who is asking to be saved, and then the becomes desensitized towards their spiritual need!
  3. The sooner a person comes to Christ the longer they have to serve Him!

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Think of two candles, one very long and the other very short.  The long candle represents a child and the short, an elderly person.  Often when we have an older person saved in a service we have a huge time of rejoicing, which is definitely worthy of joy to see this heart finally yielded to Christ!  But when a little child gets saved, it’s often given a little nod.  But think of those two candles.  That short candle, representing the older person only has a little time left to “burn” for Christ.  The child, however, has their whole life to make a difference for the Lord in this world!  That reason in itself should make us realize the urgency in bringing little ones to the Savior!

I trust this helps every adult who can influence a child to have a heart for little ones coming while they’re young!  Let’s obey Christ’s command, do it while their heart is soft, so they can use their whole life to serve God!

If you know a parent with little ones who might need this encouragement, feel free to share this article on your Facebook account or Twitter.

Lovingly,

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children · Family life · Motherhood · salvation

How To Tell If A Child Is Ready To Be Saved

Recently while reading through an old journal, I read some memories of when my girls were little.  I read stories like :

  • the funny account of the day one of my girls told me my dresser had a rash…she was looking at the dust on its surface!
  • The day she emptied a jar of face cream and spread it all over my bedspread and herself.
  • Both my girls loved helping in the kitchen when I was baking.  What fun we shared as they helped stir in ingredients for cookies, or roll a little pie for their daddy.
  • Feeling frustrated at discipline – trying to figure out how to reach the child without breaking her spirit.

Parenting is full of fun days, hard days and days when you have NO IDEA what to do.  It’s for that reason that I’ve chosen parenting as the next topic in my summer series.

What a joy it is to have children given to us by God to raise for His glory – and what a huge responsibility it is!  As Christians, it must be our daily goal to point those little ones to Christ in everyday ways, in intentional ways and in ways that will prepare them to trust Him as their Savior as soon as they can understand.  But that’s where we get hung up – we wonder how much do they need to understand to make a real decision to be saved?  I’ve written several posts about that and I’m going to repost those this week, because it’s just a burden on my heart.  The bottom line is this – Jesus said to suffer the little children to come to him and forbid them not.  If a child is saying they want to trust Christ, who are we to say they don’t know enough?  Jesus loves them.  So, let’s start in, shall we?

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Trusting Christ as a little girl has created in me a love for talking to children about God’s gift of salvation.  I can relate to them because I remember how it was for me all those years ago when I knew I needed to receive God’s gift of salvation for my own!

Here’s what I remember about myself at that time

  • I was a sinner.  Oh, I was a “good girl.” You see I wanted to please and obey my parents and others in authority.  But even at seven, I remembered lying, disobeying, being sassy or disrespectful.  All that was sin, and I knew I was guilty.
  • I knew I wasn’t going to go to heaven because of my sinful heart.  It had separated me from God.
  • I knew Jesus loved me so much that He took my punishment on the cross, and that what He did made it possible for me to be forgiven by God.
  • I knew that all I had to do was receive God’s free gift of eternal life by calling on Him to save me.

That’s pretty much it.  There was a TON I didn’t know.  But I knew enough about salvation to do the calling. Along with my love for telling children about Christ, I’m also passionate about us as adults not making it hard for a child to be saved.  It’s as though we feel they have to be on an adult level of understanding before they can really trust the Lord. I heard a preacher say recently something like this,

Often when a child talks to us about salvation, we ask adult questions they cannot answer,

and we say they’re not ready to be saved.

Then when an adult needs to come to Christ we tell them to just have

childlike faith!

There was so very much I DIDN’T know about the Lord, His Word or my eternal destiny.  But you know what?  That didn’t change my decision to receive Christ that day!

I hear many adults wonder about their child and say, “What if they’re not ready?”  Then don’t push them, but if they’re asking you questions, just lead them to Jesus!  Will you regret that they came too soon, or that they needed to make it sure later on?  No!  Bring them to Him!  Then continue to guide them and teach them.  Make it easy for them to find Christ!  Don’t put them off because you wonder if they are really ready.

Another question is, “What if they don’t really understand?”  I ask a child questions.  Here’s what I may ask:

  1. Why did you raise your hand in class?  Even if the invitation was so very clear – “Come see me if you want to know how to have Jesus as your Savior and have your sins forgiven.”  Sometimes a child will shrug their shoulders and not have a clue.  Maybe they came because a friend came up.  I’ll just pat them on the shoulder and say, “That’s okay.  Thanks for coming to see me!”  End of discussion.
    If they say, “I want to talk about Jesus…” then we go forward.
    If your child is talking to you and others about needing to be saved, then it’s obvious the Holy Spirit is working in their heart.  You might ask them, “Why do you think you need to be saved?  When should a person ask Jesus to save them?”  As a parent, use every discipline time as another reminder of their sinful nature and their need for Christ.
  2. Have you ever sinned?  If they say, “yes.”  I’ll ask what sin is and why is it a problem.  If they say, “No!!!!”  It’s usually also the end of the discussion.
  3. What did God do for us because we have sinned and we cannot enter heaven with sinful hearts?  I have them read with me John 3:16 and Romans 6:23.
  4. What do we have to do to receive a gift?  What do we do to receive God’s gift of eternal life?
  5. Are you ready to pray and receive God’s gift of salvation?
  6. I have them pray out loud – not so I can grade their prayer, but to make sure they’re not praying for their Papa’s surgery or their gold fish that died.  (Trust me, it can go there if the child isn’t really serious about salvation at this point.)

If you can keep a child on point through those brief questions, that in itself is also a good indicator that they’re really thinking about their need for Jesus.  Once I had a child respond at an invitation and when I started asking them questions they went off on conversations about their toys, their dog and vacation time.  It was obvious to me they didn’t come because they were wanting to receive Christ.
If, however, the child prayed and admitted they were a sinner and asked Jesus to come in their life, then rejoice with them and remind them that the angels in heaven are also rejoicing!!!

It grieves my heart to hear a parent say to me that their child has been asking to be saved, but “We don’t feel he’s ready.”  To me, that’s a scary place to be.  Don’t stand in front of the cross and hinder them; move aside and join them on your knees as they, in their childlike faith pray to be saved!

My girls were saved at a very young age, and both have said they never doubted their salvation.  Neither have I.  I knew God would keep His promise when He told me I would have eternal life!  I believe that’s the very essence of child-like faith!

How about you?  Do you have a certainty that you will go to heaven when you die?  This is an excellent video  (left side of screen, click to enlarge) about how you can have a relationship with God and eternal life with Him.

Because Jesus loves the little children,

P.S. I got saved while attending Sunday School. You might like to read this post about the value of Sunday School and what it did for me!

Christian Life · Christian love · evangelism · salvation

When Your Life Bumps Into Sin

bumper cars

Bumper cars are one of the carnival rides at Dollywood’s amusement park near us.  The fun of the ride is doing exactly what its name says – bumping – into another car, into the walls and the poles around the structure.  The cars are equipped with soft bumpers so the “crashes” don’t hurt you or anything you hit (Wouldn’t that be helpful at those drive-in’s where scratches and bumps are inevitable?!). Anyway…

It’s fun to go in with a group and get an eye on your target car and head for them as quickly as that little electronic car will let you travel.  Their car goes reeling and you speed off, laughing that you got the first “hit!”

That fun scene isn’t so pleasant when the “bumping” happens when your life crashes into a situation that is sinful.  I recently had an alarming experience when I slammed right into a lifestyle that is not only different from anything I’ve ever been close to, but one that the Bible renounces.  I didn’t know how to respond.  I was blown away.  I was burdened for those involved.  And honestly, I felt offended by the bruise it gave my soul.

For days I could not shake the disturbance this scene caused.  I prayed about it.  I pondered my response, and then I turned to God’s Word and dug in, looking for what God wanted me to learn.  If I wanted to know how believers are to respond when their life bumps into sinful situations, I needed to be reminded of how Jesus responded.  I turned to John, Chapters 2 and 4.

In John 2 we find Jesus overturning the tables of the money-changers in the Temple.

In John 4 Jesus meets the Woman at the well – the lady who had been married multiple times, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married.

The way He responded to the sins of both of these people taught me how He expects me to respond as well.

When my life bumps into sinners ~

  1. Consider the location
    • At church – Sin shouldn’t be practiced in this place.  The money-changer was selling in the Temple, the place where worship and the teaching of God’s Word was to occur.
    • In the world – We should expect it!  There’s no reason to be surprised by sin here; these dear people don’t know the Redeemer (yet!).
  2. Consider the person
    • Money-Changers sold for a religious occasion out of a greedy heart.  They were making merchandise of this Holy custom.
    • The Samaritan woman married five times to fill a void in her life.  She knew no better!
  3. Consider the need
    • The Money-Changers were making a living by abusing the Passover.
    • The Samaritan Woman lived this way due to her sinful nature.  She didn’t know better (yet!).

Application for you and me:

  • Sin is never to be overlooked, ignored or tolerated.  That sin that I bumped into was in the world, a place where I shouldn’t be surprised at seeing it, but that doesn’t mean I can accept it – it’s still an offence against a holy God.
  • Sin should be answered through the Scripture.  We mustn’t  argue or debate the truth – we share it with the love that Christ showed the Samaritan Woman.  We engage in the sinner’s life and ask good questions that will give us the opportunity to give God’s Word as the answer their hungry hearts are seeking.
  • Sinners should be introduced to Jesus – John 4:29
  • Share and live the Truth, then allow sinners to make up their own mind – to turn to Jesus or not. John 4:42
  • My response – 
    • In the world:
      • Love the sinner
      • Point to Jesus
      • Live out the life of a believer
      • Go my way looking for other sinners.
    • In the church:
      • Remember your own sin first!   If it were not for God’s grace, we, too, could be overcome with sin.
      • With a humble heart, point out the sin to those that claim Christ.
      • Use God’s Word, not my standard.
      • Ask questions.
      • Pray for change and then let the Holy Spirit do the convicting (we cannot change anyone).

Though I didn’t especially enjoy the bumper car experience when I banged up against sin in the world, I’m so thankful for what God taught me after the crash!  I pray that my response will be biblical, both in the world and in my church from here on out.

Oh, and if I ever see you across the arena of the Bumper Car course, look out!Image result for emoji images

 

Have you struggled with how to respond to blatant sin in the world?  How about at church?

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