Saturday, January 15, 2011

11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

They were talking about this on the radio last week and I had to share it!

11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation

By John MacArthur

1. Do you enjoy Fellowship with God and Christ?

2. Are you Sensitive to Sin in your Life?

3. Do you Obey the Scriptures?

4. Do you Reject this Evil World?

5. Do you Love Christ and eagerly await His Return?

6. Do you see a Decreasing Pattern of Sin in your Life?

7. Do you Love other Christians?

8. Do you Receive Answers to your Prayers?

9. Do you Experience the Ministry of the Holy Spirit?

10. Can you Discern between Spiritual Truth and Error?

11. Have you Suffered on Account of your Faith in Christ?

Want to know more? I did!

Here is a link for you: Is it real?

I will warn you, it is wordy! Lots of information. Apparently I have had too much coffee this morning and my mind is racing! I will be looking at these questions in depth over the next few blog posts, so check back in and we will work through it together.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Keep your karma. I'll stick to farming!

The word karma has been in my mind lately. I don’t know why God brought it to my attention, but He has. I decided to look it up. One definition that I found stated: Karma is the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person’s deeds in the previous incarnation. Karma is part of Hinduism and Buddhism. This is not Biblical!
The basic idea of karma is: what you do will eventually come back to you. Hmmm... sounds familiar!

A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7
Reaping and sowing is a farming concept. Farming 101: if you plant wheat, wheat will grow. You wouldn’t sow wheat expecting to reap corn. That would be ridiculous and miraculous!
God uses this concept throughout His word. Job 4:8 says, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. 
I can’t think of a better real life example from the Bible, than Jacob.  Rebekah and Jacob decide they want Jacob to get the blessings of the firstborn. Even though the blessing had already been promised to Jacob, by God (Gen 25:23), Rebekah and Jacob resorted to deception in order to secure the desired position and the benefits that accompany it. Jacob deserves a little credit as he initially questions his mom’s idea. But, it doesn’t take much for him to be persuaded to go along with the trickery.
The plan succeeds in deceiving Isaac and securing the firstborn blessing for the wrong child. This is where things start going downhill for Jacob. There are several repercussions to this act of trickery. To begin with, the firstborn learns about the trick and begins plotting to kill his brother. Out of fear, Rebekah sends Jacob to live with his uncle. This is the last time mother and son will see each other. Jacob is then deceived, in a similar way, by his father-in-law.
As Jacob painfully learns, sowing deception will reap more deception. 
As a mom, I will be honest, I wonder what Rebekah was thinking. It is so far from the concept that I try to teach our children: treat others the way you want to be treated. It goes right along with reaping and sowing. If you are kind you will reap kindness. If you are giving you will reap blessings. If you love others, you will reap love.
It isn’t always easy to do the right thing. Sometimes our feelings get hurt and we want to retaliate. Sometimes things aren’t going our way and there is a chance to step in and steal the blessings that belong to someone else. Sometimes we follow the crowd rather than doing the right thing and standing apart. Sowing goodness and righteousness isn’t always the easiest route. 
Thank God that we have Jesus! Even when we mess up and sow the wrong seeds, Jesus is there. When we confess that we made a mistake, God is faithful to forgive us and help us through the harvest. He can’t change the seeds we have sown, but He will not let us go through the reaping alone.
Thank you God for teaching me the right way to live. I confess that I am stubborn and don’t always think about the seeds that I am planting. Thank you for being faithful and patient with me as I learn Your ways. Help me to slow down and think before I plant. I want to be more like Jesus. I want to sow encouragement, hope, goodness and love into the lives of others. Please help me to nurture the good seeds that you have already planted. Please give me discernment to see the bad seeds and get rid of them before they take root. All of this I ask in Jesus name. Amen.


Monday, January 10, 2011

In Sickness and In Health

Photographer: Arvind Balaraman
This last week has been draining. My little one has been sick. As every mom knows, when one of yours is sick, Mom's life is put on hold. My days were spent, cuddling (which I love), taking temperatures, dispensing medicine, calling doctors, going to doctors appointments, changing sheets and dirty clothing (which I don't love) and praying. My nights were similar. I didn't sleep well as I listened for little voices, coughs and sneezes. I spent time on the floor next to the bed holding a cool cloth on his forehead, soothing him and praying for healing.

As I was doing my Bible study this weekend, I identified with an unusual character: Abraham's servant (Genesis 24). We don't know much about this man, as a matter of fact, we don't even know his name. We do learn, however, that he was very dedicated to Abraham. When Abraham had an important errand, he called on his oldest [longest employed] servant. The servant put everything else aside so that he could go and find a wife for his master. I recognize that it is easier to do the right thing when his master was there, but in verse 33, we learn that the servant, again, put his master's needs ahead of his own. This servant was a man of character.

It is difficult to continually give of ourselves. It goes against our nature to put others needs ahead of our own. As my second child started showing signs of the same illness, I started to feel resentful. I had already spent a week waiting on one child. All of my work had suffered as my schedule (and sleep) revolved around getting my child healthy. Now another one?

How did Abraham's servant continue to give?

In verse 12, I learned the secret to his success. He prayed. Although his words seem to suggest that he did not believe in God, his prayer language actually reinforces the respect that he has for Abraham. When God answers his request, the servant stopped and worshiped God (verse 26). The servant recognized that God was the reason for his success. Someone who is living through the faith of someone else would not take the time to recognize or worship the giver of the gift.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. We love because he first loved us. - 1 John 4:7-8,19

Author Erin Smalley said it best. "You and I cannot generate a single drop of love. It all comes from God. By receiving God, we receive His love. We can then open our hearts and share love with others. Loving feels good to us, but we are just passing on what we've received from God."

Being a servant to someone else is the best way of loving them and expressing the love that God gave us.

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. - Galatians 5:13

I will continue today to love a second child back to health. I cannot do it alone, however. I will pray and worship the one who has enabled me to love.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me through the most unlikely person. You are so faithful in meeting my needs even before I realize what is needed. Thank you for loving me and teaching me to love. Thank you for sending your Son to serve us even when we were not worthy of His service. Amen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

He Always Has a Plan

Photographer: anankkml

God’s Word is full of His promises and plans for His people. We don’t have to search very long to find a promise for all of us or a specific plan for a specific person and the details of how the plan worked out. In today’s reading, we learn about the objective that God had for Abram’s life.
Genesis 12:2-3
“I will make you into a great nation,
   and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
   and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
   and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
   will be blessed through you.”
God had a specific plan for Abram. God shared the plan with Abram and promised to watch out for him. As Abram went forward, we learn that he was worshipping God and staying in relationship with Him. However, when Abram and Sarai went to Egypt, fear took over, and Abram quickly forgot that God was with him. Rather than trusting God, Abram took the situation into his own hands and decided to lie to the Pharaoh. The result was that the Pharaoh discovered the lie and kicked Abram and his entire entourage out of Egypt. The MacArthur Bible Commentary suggests that this must have looked bad to his servants and probably resulted in a loss of integrity for Abram.
After reading this passage, I began thinking about my life and my own walk with God. How many times has God made plans for me, but instead of waiting on Him, I walked ahead with my own “better ideas” of how things should go. How many times have I questioned whether God was going to come through for me and I decided I needed to take things into my own hands. What was the end result? Instead of following His perfect plan, I got in the way and ended up looking foolish and unfaithful.
In the second part of the reading today, we learn about another of God’s plans. In Matthew 4: 1-11, we learn about Jesus being in the desert. Jesus was fasting and seeking God before he began his ministry. The devil showed up and began to tempt Jesus. Where Abram failed, Jesus succeeded. During that 40 days, Jesus trusted God with His provision and protection. When the devil came and tempted him, Jesus knew God’s word he was able to resist the devil’s schemes. By remaining strong in who God created him to be, Jesus was able to fulfill God’s ultimate plan. If Jesus had fallen to temptation there in the desert, he would not have been able to go to the cross in order  to save us. 
How can I apply this to my life? I am not always successful at resisting temptation. There are times that I don’t rely on Him, I try to do things through my own strength and end up falling to temptation. During these times of sin, I am not following God’s perfect plan for my life. What am I ultimately missing out on?
I can’t help but think of: 
Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He shall direct
your paths. 
How much further would I go by remembering this during everyday life? His ways are so much higher than my own. He only wants the best for me. His plan is perfect. If I trust in Him, my path will be made straight.
Heather has been talking with us about God’s plan for us for 2011. His plan is good and I don’t want to miss out on any part of it.
Heavenly Father, thank you for creating a plan specifically for me. You are so faithful to keep walking with me even when I am not at my best. I confess that I am prideful and stubborn sometimes when I should be trusting and following you. I don’t want to live in your permissive will for my life, I want to live out your perfect will for my life. I don’t want to get in your way anymore. Please open my ears to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and teach me to submit to your ways. I want to live like your Son, Jesus. Amen.


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