THE FAITH THAT SAVES

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

There are many Christians who never know the assurance of their salvation because they do not believe they have been good enough to earn it. Such people have confused ideas about the meaning of grace and the role of faith and works.

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OVERCOMING SATAN

For some have already strayed after Satan. (1 Timothy 5:15 ESV)

Not only are you fighting against normal human problems, but you now have engaged in war with Satan and demons and sin itself. (John MacArthur)

Many no longer believe in Satan. They think that he is the product of the uneducated, superstitious mind. The Scriptures are largely ignored concerning Satan and his minions in our current free-thinking culture. We look at evil with enlightened eyes and see a disease which only needs the right medicine to cure it.

Evil thrives on being unacknowledged. It separates man from God. It is an unrelenting malevolence against mankind. This is a spiritual battle on a cosmic scale and most are blind to its existence. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) How is the master of evil overcome? James, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, writes:

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PRAYING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

If you have put all of your trust in Jesus, you are a son or daughter of God. In Christ, we have confidence when we come into the presence of God. We know that God will hear our prayers. Notice, however, the qualifying phrase – “if we ask anything according to his will”. In other words, if we pray according to God’s Will, He will hear us and grant our petitions.

This is wonderful news but how do we know God’s Will? We must read the Scriptures and pray for wisdom. Prayer is not just a verbal recital of your wish list. Prayer requires two-way communication. You are not speaking to empty air; the God of the universe is listening to you and He wants you to listen to Him.

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THOUGHTS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalm 25:7 ESV)

Physical beauty is fleeting. Physical strength is used up by time. Even the mind of a genius is slowed by age. Yet, in our youth we often carry a false sense of immortality in which we view ourselves as invincible. We demonstrate this by magical thinking (i.e. self-absorbing daydreams & fantasies) and through foolish actions that may injure us or change our lives for the worse in years to come. We blind ourselves to inevitable consequences for a few moments of pleasure. We too quickly reject the traditional beliefs of our parents and the church without really trying to understand them. We reject anything that is not popular or the current fad. Our lives are consumed by sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, jealousy, envy, strife, and drunkenness, which prevent our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV) If we ever, over the years, learn the truth of these matters, the majority of our lives may have passed us by. Perhaps this is best illustrated by the Chinese proverb: “Too soon old; Too late wise.”

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LISTENING TO A SERMON

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 ESV)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

Do you enjoy a good sermon or do you just want it to be short enough to make it to your favorite restaurant before the Sunday crowd? Do you want sermons to always move you emotionally or do you consider the accuracy of the Word preached to be the most important thing? Do you believe that music and singing should take up most of the service? Do you listen to preaching to be entertained or to learn more about Jesus?

People have many reasons for attending a particular church and often the sermon is not the highest priority. This is why you hear complaints: “The sermons are too long”; “The pastor doesn’t include enough funny illustrations”; “He talks about holy living and sanctification too much”. Such criticisms reflect the attitude that growing in Christ is not the highest priority. So many people in our churches today seem to want just a little bit of Jesus and no more.

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LOVING THE LORD YOUR GOD

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30 ESV)

Many say they love God but offer Him only a divided heart. They believe they can love the Lord and seek to please their selfish desires in the same moment. However, God lays claim to the whole heart.

We are to love God with all our soul (spirit). The spirit is where our loftiest sacred practices begin. The spirit is vital to the life of faith and communicates the love or lack of love we have for God. There are lots of people who do Christian things on the outside but inwardly they have not changed. Loving God with all your soul is loving Him with all your inner being. Continue reading

DO NOT TREAT DOCTRINE LIGHTLY

He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9 ESV)

After over thirty years of teaching Christian adults in several churches, I cannot tell you how often I have heard statements in various forms similar to this: “I don’t want to know doctrines. I just want to know Jesus.” This clever response gives the appearance of a deep spirituality but often I have found that the Jesus they are seeking to know is more the idol of their imaginations than the Jesus found in the Bible.

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