Christian Life · salvation

Professor or Possessor?

I read about a man who wanted to be a doctor so badly that he decided to impersonate one, and was arrested for doing so! There’s a big difference between someone who says they are something and someone who really is what they claim.

When we read the fourth and fifth chapters of the book of Acts, we read words like, great faith and great power that came over the Christians.  I can just hear their joy as they had all things common and were laying their gifts at the apostles’ feet so that the ministry of the Gospel could press forward. 

How invigorating!  How exciting! 

But in my head, I can almost hear the music of the movie, Jaws beginning to play as Chapter 5 begins.  It’s that eerie music that tells you that something really bad is getting ready to happen.

Sure enough, you turn to chapter 5 and we meet Annanias and Sapphira, a husband and a wife.  The chapter starts with the word, BUT, which tells us that after the joy, fellowship and sacrifice that we read the believers had,  this couple is experiencing something completely different.  What did they experience?  They simply imitate what they saw.

“Oh, others are giving money from land they sold? We will, too!” 

But they connived together to only give part of what they received, but to say that they were giving it ALL. They each came, one at a time and told their lie to Peter.  They were both buried that same day.

Their sin was not that they didn’t give it all – their sin was that they lied about it.  Where did that sin get its root?  In their heart.  Why did they lie?  Because they only professed that they had the same thing these early Christians truly possessed. They didn’t have a true love for God and the risen Savior.

You and I can imitate this dead duo simply by saying with our mouths what is not truly in our heart.  I believe there are many people in the church who profess they are Christians, but they’ve never possessed Christ as their own personal Savior.

We can look at this couple and learn whether or not we are possessors or only professors of a true relationship with Christ  Let’s look at the differences between the two.

  1. Possessors pray.  Professors talk about prayer.  A relationship with the Lord begins with prayer. We confess our need for Christ.  We confess that we are sinful and unable to save ourselves.  We surrender our lives to Him.  People who don’t really know Christ can say a lot about praying, but they don’t have an intimate, close relationship with the Lord so that they are in constant communication with Him.
  2. Possessors give sacrificially.  Professors give sparingly. A true believer realizes that everything he owns came from the Lord, so he opens his hand and gives it back with a thankful, generous heart.  A professor is more concerned about looking like a giver and is fearful of giving away too much, so he gives what he thinks he can afford to give.
  3. Possessors love the fellowship of other believers. Professors isolate themselves. A true believer enjoys the fellowship of the saints.  Time to worship, pray and communicate with other believers invigorates and strengthens him!  A professor gets irritated at the length of time a church service goes.  They complain about “having to pray” in a group.  They can’t wait to get our the door.
  4. Possessors speak out of their own personal witness.  Professors can only say what they have heard someone else say. A true believer has a walk with God that is fresh.  They are constantly learning as they dig into God’s Word.  They share what God taught them today. A professor doesn’t have a continual understanding of the Word of God because He doesn’t have the Holy Spirit in him to teach the Truth.  Therefore, they can only echo things they’ve read or heard from others.
  5. Possessors operate with great grace. Professors operate out of the their flesh. A true believer has God’s grace to be able to give, to pray and to tell others what God has done for them.  A professor has to pull up from their flesh the willing and the doing.  
  6. Possessors have the evidence of spiritual life. Professors show evidence of spiritual death.  True believers produce good works out of the spiritual life – not to gain it, but their works prove their spiritual life.  Professors can only reveal dead works because they are dead people, just as we literally see in Ananias and Sapphira. 

We need to remember that a believer who is out of fellowship with God can imitate an unbeliever.  That means that if we are living with unconfessed sin, we haven’t lost our salvation, but we will look just like the professors that were just described.

I don’t want my “dead corpse” to be my testimony.  I long to live a life that is alive and vibrant, giving, praying, learning, and enjoying fellowship all with great grace! 

Which are you?  A possessor or a professor?  It’s your choice.

Easter · Eternity

Jesus’ Final Words To You

This week my husband pulled out a journal that he wrote in when his father was dying of cancer. On his death bed, my father-in-law spoke to each of us. With ears leaned down, straining and attentive, we wanted to hear every word he said to his family before he died. His words were precious. They were written down so we would not forget.

In John 17, we have Jesus’ final words to His disciples. This was His prayer for them as He was now facing the cross. But He didn’t just pray for those that followed Him during His time on earth, He also mentioned me and every other person who would trust Him and follow Him as their Savior! How amazing is that?!

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Could we miss hearing His precious words? Would we turn away and not lean in to hear what He wanted to tell us before He died? Here’s what He prayed for us in His final hour:

  1. He wanted us to have unity as modeled by the Godhead. The Father and the Son were one. Unity among the Body of Christ is so important. Has the cross helped me to love others, or am I divisive in my spirit? Our love for others proves our love for God.
  2. He wanted us to be one in Christ. This is our position once we are saved – in Christ. We’re not one through church membership, good deeds, or our pastor, but in Christ. Is the cross work of Christ and my identification in Him my only hope of salvation? Nothing else will save me.
  3. He wanted us to be marked by glory. Jesus gave His glory to us through His presence, His Word, and His Spirit. It’s the manifestation of His presence. Can the world tell that I’ve been with the resurrected Christ?
  4. He is anxious to be with us! Jesus greatly desired for His people to be gathered to Him in heaven and to see His glory. Jesus longed for heaven’s completion of all things. Am I longing for heaven where I will be with my resurrected Savior and view His glory face-to-face?
  5. He wanted us to know the indwelling presence of Himself.I in them.” Am I abiding in Christ today?

One of the things my father-in-law said on his deathbed was, “I’m going to miss my family, but I get to see the Man I’ve been preaching about all my life!” It’s normal for us to think about our family members longing to see us, but to think that the Lord Jesus is anxious to see us in heaven is amazing, isn’t it?

Because of Easter, the celebration of our resurrected Savior – we can have the assurance that we can have Christ living in us now simply by putting our trust in Him alone for the forgiveness of our sins. Then, we have the solid assurance that we will see Him in all His glory one day when He brings us home, and we can see His glory by abiding in Him now.

If you’ve never read Jesus’ last words to His followers, or if it’s been a while, you can find them right here. Open your “journal” and be overwhelmed by what He wanted you to know before He died in your place!

Rejoice in His love letter to you,

death · Eternity

Death Is Not the End

Another birthday is approaching. Hmmmm, another year older. I’m pushing closer to the day when this life will be over. I could let myself get down about that, but then I let my mind remember that death is not the end for me! Let me share an illustration regarding this that the Lord recently made clear to me.

One of my daily summer tasks is to water the flower boxes in my upstairs windows. If I fail to get this chore done, it’s very obvious! When I look out the window, the poor impatiens are so withered it seems they will never revive. But I pour the cool water over their droopy heads with hopes they’ll perk back up. A few hours later when I take a peek at them, no longer are they parched! They’re plumped back up and showing off their glorious colors!

I love how God uses nature to remind us of Truth. I Peter 1, His Word says,

For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

When I look at those droopy blooms, I remember that flesh (people) are like the grass, which refers to all grass, flowers and herbs – they wither, meaning we will die. Each birthday reminds us that not only are we a year older, but we’re a year weaker, a year closer to death. The “glory of man” is the things that we might boast in – our strength, our wealth, our wisdom, our position. It might look great at the moment, but that glory will also fall away at some point. But there is good news that follows this truth!

But the Word of the Lord endures forever! Peter reminds us that this is the Word by which we heard the Gospel! It came through the eternal Scriptures, the Words that will be true forever. This is a beautiful reminder that this also means our salvation that came through the Gospel will also be eternal. There’s no need to worry and wonder if I’m saved forever. We literally have God’s Word on it!

Let’s get a mental picture using my flower boxes again. When I water them, they “come back to life” so to speak. When you and I trust Christ as our Savior because we’ve heard the Gospel (that Jesus came, died for us and rose again, and we receive His gift of eternal life), though our flesh may die, we will live forever. Picture that water (the Gospel of the Word of God) being poured over us, reviving our dead bodies and translating us to heaven! We’ll be more alive there than we ever were here!

When you water your droopy flowers, I trust you’ll be able to rejoice in the fact that if you have received Christ, you will fade from this life, but you’ll live gloriously forever because of the eternal Word that gave you the Gospel!

If you don’t have this solid hope, I’d love for you to read this post or this one that tells you how you can be saved. If you are a believer, who could you “water” with this Truth today? There are people all around us who are dying that need this hope!

Easter · Eternity · Jesus Changed My Life

When Everything Else Is Stripped Away At Easter

Easter plans have changed this year.

Easter services are different than we would ever have imagined.

Easter traditions have been put aside.

But when everything else is stripped away, there is one thing that remains securely in tact and that is the reason why we celebrate Easter. 

It’s Jesus.  It’s His resurrection from the dead; the fact that He lives!

For me personally, you can hear in this video what I still have today on this Easter, even though everything else has been stripped away.

Thank you for listening to my story.  It’s the truth that makes me put my feet on the floor each morning.  It’s what gives me hope when everything around me seems hopeless.  It’s what energizes my speech and motivates my life.

If you have never received Jesus and seen what a change He can make, I am extending His invitation to you to come to Him today.  Don’t delay.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

There’s nothing you need to do first. He will fix the broken parts of you after He is your Savior. You don’t need to be better or try harder because Jesus did all the work for your salvation on the cross.

We won’t have beautiful church services, egg hunts, or family gatherings this year, but we still have Jesus, and He is all we need.

Happy Easter, my friends!

denise a

 

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.

wreath.jpg

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,

Denise Signature 150 px