Courage to Speak the Truth

Why is it so easy to lie? Telling a falsehood is something we all did as children, but lying can trip up even longtime Christians. The underlying motive for giving in to deception is usually a desire to protect ourselves in some way. We lie to get out of trouble, to avoid an unwanted situation, to profit financially, to receive acceptance, to bolster our image, to hide our flaws, or for other self-serving reasons.

When Nebuchadnezzar had an alarming dream, the Lord gave Daniel the interpretation: The king was going to become insane and live like a wild animal for “seven periods of time.” At that moment, Daniel had to decide whether he would tell the king the truth or conceal it. In those days, giving a king a bad report could cost the messenger his life. Yet despite the danger, Daniel held to his convictions and delivered the Lord’s message to Nebuchadnezzar.

Here’s why Daniel could speak the truth in the face of danger: He trusted God. Since he was doing exactly what the Lord wanted, he wasn’t frightened into compromise. Obedience to God is worth far more than anything we could gain from speaking lies or doctoring the truth in an effort to stay safe.

Are you willing to commit to speaking truth even when it’s costly? Altering income tax information, falsely enhancing your image on social media, or ignoring a miscalculation in your favor on a receipt isn’t worth the loss of character that comes with deception. Seeking to please the Lord and letting Him handle the consequences will always be the best course of action.

The Source of Discernment

Spiritual discernment is a supernatural ability, which requires supernatural power. In our human strength, we can rely only on what we see, hear, feel, and know in order to make decisions and evaluate circumstances and relationships. But when the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, He opens up an entirely new dimension of understanding. He shows us things we could never figure out by ourselves.

The Bible is one source of spiritual discernment, but without the interpreting power of the Spirit, reading it would be strictly an academic endeavor. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the words of Scripture and brings them to life in the believer’s heart. He knows precisely how to apply God’s Word to our exact need at the right moment. You have probably found this to be true: A passage you’ve read many times hasn’t stood out before, but when you need a particular message, that familiar verse jumps off the page right into your heart and transforms your thoughts.

That’s the work of the Spirit—His job is to open our understanding to “the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). The Lord isn’t trying to hide His thoughts from us. Rather, He wants us to know how He thinks so we can proceed wisely.

Then what should we do if we’re struggling to understand Scripture? The Lord wants us to seek Him and ask for wisdom to comprehend. This requires time invested in Bible study and prayer. And remember, the more yielded we are to the Spirit, the more we’ll be able to hear His voice.

How can you know God?

It all starts with accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ provides a relationship with the Father and eternal life through His death on the cross and resurrection, see Romans. 5:10.

Romans. 10:9 promises, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." If you have not yet begun your personal relationship with God, understand that the One who created you loves you no matter who you are or what you’ve done. He wants you to experience the profound depth of His care.

Therefore, tell God that you are willing to trust Him for salvation. You can tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, congratulations!

You have received Christ as your Savior and have made the best decision you will ever make—one that will change your life forever!

Solving Problems Through Prayer

Problems are an inevitable part of life whether a person is saved or not. The difference is that once a man or woman becomes a believer, the Father strengthens His child to face every difficulty.

Our omniscient and omnipotent God is greater than any problem. He knows our future circumstances and equips our heart and mind to withstand the coming trial. The moment we encounter a problem, we can turn to His omnipotence. He promised to meet believers’ needs and, therefore, is under His own divine obligation to give guidance and direction. Our first response should always be to call out “Father!” and pray. Immediately, two things take place: The problem’s growth is stunted, and God’s child is reminded of the unique position given those who trust in the sovereign Lord.

God always provides when we face problems. However, that doesn’t mean we should be sitting back and waiting for Him to work out the details. His provision may require an act of faith from us in order to reach a resolution. Experience and Scripture tell us that His solutions are always best, but human strength may falter when we hear what He asks of us in response to our prayers. Thankfully, He also offers the courage to act at the right moment.

Long before a crisis arises or a solution is needed, a wise believer will be seeking God in prayer. In trouble-free times, we can build a foundation of trust and communion with Him that can withstand any hardship. Problems are unavoidable, but as we seek our Father in prayer, He is faithful to deal with our difficulties.

Is Your Faith Genuine?

During my first pastorate in the mountains of North Carolina, I traveled throughout the area meeting people, telling them about the Lord, and inviting them to church. They all claimed to believe in Jesus even though many had no interest in church or the Bible and their lives showed no evidence of salvation. I feared that whatever faith they had would not take them to heaven.

Believing in vain is probably more common in the church than we’d care to admit. Some people assume they are Christians simply because they were raised in a Christian family or have attended church since childhood. Sometimes they merely believe the facts about Jesus in the same way that they’re confident George Washington existed.

However, there are also many people who deliberately limit what they believe about Christ and His Word. They don’t want a faith that requires them to forsake their sins and change their lifestyle. If asked what they believe, they may respond that their faith is a private matter.

Other people have been led to think they are saved because of an experience. They may have heard a nebulous invitation to make Jesus a part of their life, or perhaps an encounter at a conference made them feel close to God.

Today’s passage is a sobering warning. How can we be certain that our faith is genuine and our salvation is sure? Jesus said the proof lies in our obedience to God’s Word. If we are in Christ, then as He works to conform us to His image, the evidence will be displayed in our character, conduct, and conversation.

When We Feel Helpless

We love movies that capture our attention with tales of people who are trapped, helpless, and frantically looking for a way of escape. However, this is not something we want in real life. Yet when it happens, we immediately start looking for the way out and beg God for rescue through physical healing, changed circumstances, or additional provision.

Have you ever considered that spiritual rescue is even more important than physical deliverance? Although Jesus has freed us from the penalty and power of sin, there are times when we feel helpless in the face of sinful habits, emotions, rash words, and ungodly thoughts. That’s when we need to follow the example of the psalmist and cry out to God for spiritual rescue.

Admit your helplessness to God. In yourself, you have no power to overcome sin. But God’s Spirit within you is almighty.

Confess any sins, fears, unbelief, or self-reliance. Surrender all further attempts to change by self-effort, and make no provision for sinful desires.

Turn your gaze toward God. Think about who He is, what He desires, and what He has promised.

Fill your mind and heart with God’s Word. Meditate on it. Ask Him for wisdom and strength to follow Him with reliance on and submission to His Spirit.

Trust God, and wait upon Him to change you from the inside out. Although salvation occurs in a moment, sanctification is a lifelong process.

A time will eventually come when the helpless feeling departs and is replaced by the joy of obedience. When that happens, give God the glory.

God’s Faithfulness

Ever since the heavenly Father created time, everything has been in flux—everything, that is, except God Himself. The environment changes with the seasons, and in a similar way, our life also goes through seasons. Some are filled with joy, while others are characterized by difficulty. But the Lord is faithful, and we can always take comfort in knowing this.

Faithfulness is one of God’s unchanging attributes. It means that He always does exactly what He says He will do and acts in accordance with His nature. He can never deny Himself, so when He promises to “sanctify you entirely” (1 Thessalonians 5:23), you can count on Him to make you more like Christ—even using the painful seasons of life to do so.

God’s unchanging nature and faithfulness are the foundation of our hope. Because He won’t change His mind about our salvation, we have the assurance of eternal security. Since He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe, we never have to fear that our world is out of His control. His plans were formed long ago with perfect faithfulness (Isa. 25:1), and no one can frustrate them or turn back His hand (Isa. 14:27).

Because God is faithful, we can have peace of mind in any circumstance—even in the face of death. Although we will change with time and the seasons of life will come and go, our faithful God is always the same. Since we belong to Him through Christ, He will never forget, neglect, or abandon us. He has promised to preserve us “complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23), and He will do it.

A Mind Set on Christ

What occupies your thoughts? That’s a challenging question and one we should not ignore. In many ways, we are what we think. If our thoughts are focused on the concerns of this world, we will become like the world. But if our minds are set on the things above—in other words, where Christ is—we’ll become more like Him.

The point isn’t merely to think about heaven but to think on Christ, who is in heaven. When we do this, changes will start to take place:

We will gain an eternal perspective. Instead of being distracted by trivial pursuits and discouraged by hardships and pain, we’ll be devoted to living for Christ. Then we will be able to rest in our loving Father’s choices for us.

Things of the world will lose appeal. The more aware we are of Jesus, the less we tolerate sin, because we know it doesn’t fit us anymore. Instead of chasing the passing pleasures and goals of the culture, we’ll pursue a lifestyle of obedience to the Lord.

We’ll realize our security is in Christ. Right now we are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). This speaks of our eternal security and also gives us a sense of safety since nothing comes our way without passing through God’s hands.

We look forward to a glorious future. When Christ is revealed, then we will be revealed with Him in glory (v. 4). Even when everything looks dismal, we have a reason to hope because our time here is infinitesimal compared to eternity with Christ.

Your beliefs determine your perspective on life, and that shapes your priorities and attitudes.

An Awareness of God

The three commands in today’s passage may look simple because they’re short, but many people find them challenging to obey. Our lives are so full of responsibilities and activities that it’s all we can do to keep up our schedules, let alone live as these verses command. There’s only one way to succeed—not by trying harder but by focusing on Christ. When He becomes the center of our attention, our attitude and behavior will change.

Rejoice Always. The realization that our omnipotent God is constantly with us puts troubling circumstances in their proper place—under His authority. It also helps us sense the incomparable joy of His companionship, even in difficulties and suffering.

Pray without ceasing. It’s important to set aside time each day to come before the Lord with our problems and requests. But believers also long for an ongoing attitude of prayer, which, like a continual conversation, is expressed either verbally or in our thoughts. Then if a decision is required or trouble comes, our first thought is to turn to God for help.

Give thanks in everything. If our minds are set on the Lord each day, we’ll be able to thank Him regardless of the situation. That’s because we know He is with us and will work everything for our good—if not here, then in heaven.

These three admonitions are a call to become preoccupied with Christ. If we are consumed with other thoughts, it’s easy to feel irritated, worry unceasingly, and complain about everything. But when we begin each day in God’s Word, we are reminded of His instructions and His care.

Holding Fast the Faithful Word

Today’s passage describes God’s requirement for elders and pastors in the church. Every believer, however, should aspire to the qualities mentioned, because they exemplify the spiritual maturity Christ desires for all of us. While everything listed is praiseworthy, the last item—“holding fast the faithful word”—is the foundation for all the rest (1 Timothy 1:9).

To hold fast means “to adhere, cling, or be devoted.” The phrase implies not only believing God’s Word to be true but also doing what it says by applying scriptural truths to every area of life. Peter described such devotion this way: “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

A consistent intake of Scripture is essential for our spiritual growth, and it enables us to distinguish between truth and error. The Bible is called “the faithful word” because it’s reliable and true. The Word of God is the means by which those who hold fast to it can “exhort in sound doctrine and ... refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

If we aren’t grounded in Scripture, we’ll unknowingly accept philosophies and teachings that will lead us astray. But when biblical truth has saturated our mind and heart, we’ll sense a red flag pop up in our spirit whenever we encounter an erroneous concept.

God’s Word is the compass for our life—not something we read only occasionally. It’s nutrition for our spiritual growth, a guide for life, protection from sin and error, and a means of knowing God better.

The Revelation of God

The times we live in may leave us feeling shaken and uncertain. We aren’t sure what will happen tomorrow—the economy could collapse or a natural disaster might strike. But one thing we can always count on is the Word of God. That’s our sure foundation in this ever-changing world.

The Bible is unique because it is God’s divine revelation of Himself. In Scripture, the term revelation refers to something God has made known to mankind—information we could never discover on our own. For instance, since no human being was present at creation, the only way we know what happened is because God has revealed it in the book of Genesis.

The process by which the Bible was written is called inspiration. God used human beings to record His thoughts. He didn’t put them in a trance, but His Spirit moved in them as they wrote down His truths, using their own personality, style, and vocabulary.

Now as we read Scripture, the Holy Spirit within us illumines our mind so we can understand what the passage means. Then God’s Word becomes like “a lamp shining in a dark place,” giving us insights from the Author Himself (2 Peter 1:19).

One reason unbelievers often reject or find fault with the Bible is because they don’t understand it. The fact is, they can’t understand it because they do not have the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14). But if you belong to Christ, His Spirit will teach you the Word of God as long as you are faithful to read and study it. Then you’ll have a sure foundation in troubled times.

The Profitable Word

Why should you read the Bible? To some people, it’s just an archaic book that has little relevance today. But for believers, God’s Word is essential and life-changing. Christians living in countries where Bibles are illegal would love to have the access to Scripture that you and I take for granted.

Consider what the world would be like if God had not given us His Word. Though we would still have the testimony of creation to tell us who He is (Rom. 1:20), our understanding of God and how to follow Him wouldn’t be as clear. The Bible’s pages contain everything we need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of God (2 Peter 1:3).

Reading God’s Word has many benefits. The apostle Paul describes four ways Scripture is profitable for believers (2 Timothy 3:16).

Teaching. The Bible has all the divine truth that God wants us to know. From Scripture, we deepen our relationship with the Lord, see life from His perspective, and understand how He wants us to live.

Reproof. God’s Word is a light that reveals our sins and a sword that pierces and convicts so we can confess and receive forgiveness.

Correction. Scripture restores and points us to godly living and obedience.

Training in righteousness. The Word of God trains us to stay on the path of righteousness and mature spiritually.

The end result of teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness is a life adequately equipped to live as the Lord desires. With so much to gain, why would we ever neglect this most precious gift from God?

How to Avoid God’s Discipline

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Can you relate to Paul’s statement from Romans 7:19? Although sin’s power has been broken in the Christian’s life, it can still exert influence. That’s why the apostle tells us not to let sin reign in our bodies—otherwise, it could lead us away from the Lord and hinder His transformative work (Rom. 6:12-13).

Divine discipline is one of the means God employs to halt the progress of sinful behavior in His children. But it doesn’t always have to come to that. Paul suggested that the Corinthians examine their hearts prior to participating in the Lord’s Supper. Then they could correct themselves before coming under the Father’s discipline.

We can adopt the same practice of self-examination in our daily life by asking God where we might be harboring wrong attitudes or hidden sin. Then as we pray and read the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will help us see where we have gone astray. If we truly desire to mature in our faith, we will honestly confront the problem areas He reveals. This is done by confessing our sins and turning from them in repentance. But if we delay in this process, we are inviting His discipline.

Sin is not something that we can sweep under the rug and ignore. Unless we put it to death, it will grow and poison our life. The heavenly Father knows this, and because He loves us, He may forcefully intervene with divine discipline so we can be forgiven and restored to fellowship with Him for eternity (Heb. 12:6).

Seeking God’s Guidance

A correct perspective of God is vital because it determines how we interact with Him. For instance, if we think He is concerned only about the big events in world history, we won’t bother to pray about our daily concerns. However, if our view of Him is grounded in the Scriptures, we’ll readily seek His guidance, knowing that He cares about every aspect of our life.

Despite this assurance, there may be times when we are so determined to get what we want that we don’t even ask for God’s direction. Instead, we plunge ahead, thinking that He will simply stop us if our decision is not according to His will. But the Lord won’t necessarily prevent us from doing that which is not His will, nor will He always come to our rescue if we have acted presumptuously without seeking His help.

A better approach is to do as David did. He said, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). The omniscient heavenly Father has provided everything we need to live wisely through His Word and His Spirit. And as those who know and love Him, we should desire to please God by seeking His direction in every area of life.

The Lord is certainly willing to guide us through the treacherous seas of decision-making. But we must pay attention to the instructions in His Word and to the promptings of His Spirit, who is our helper, teacher, and guide. Then we can say with David, “I will bless the Lord who has counseled me” (Psalm 16:7).

How to Discern Direction From God

Have you been seeking the Lord’s guidance on a particular issue yet still can’t discern what He would have you do? We don’t always know why God doesn’t make everything clear when we ask for His help. But doing certain things can prepare us to hear His directions.

Seek Cleansing. We need to ask the Lord if there is anything in our life that is hindering our prayers. Then, if He brings something to mind, we can receive His cleansing through confession (1 John 1:9).

Surrender. If we have not fully yielded ourselves to the Lord, our heart will remain set on our own desires. When that’s the case, we’ll have difficulty perceiving His will (James 4:3).

Ask Wisely. God is committed to answering our prayers if we ask according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). Therefore, we must carefully consider if our requests align with His desires as revealed in Scripture.

Meditate. Since God’s Word is a light to our path, the more we think about the truths of Scripture, the clearer the way will become (Psalm 119:105).

Wait. God promises to act on the behalf of those who wait (Isa. 64:4). Therefore, we must resist the urge to run ahead of Him by trying to fix the situation ourselves or manipulate circumstances to get our desired outcome.

Instead of letting uncertainty cause you to become anxious or fearful, consider these five practices. Then begin to look at your situation as an opportunity to trust your sovereign, omnipotent God who always works everything for your good (Rom. 8:28).

Walk in God’s Ways

Most of us realize there’s no guarantee that life will be pleasant and easy. But when disappointment or hardship comes, we are often more preoccupied with finding a way out than with understanding how God is moving in our situation. One danger of this approach is that we might not recognize if we’ve gotten off course.

The Lord wants us to know His ways so that we can walk in them. Yet like Israel, we fail to listen to Him and instead plot our own course through life. As a result, we experience unnecessary suffering—a high price for disobedience. We should remember that though walking in God’s ways may lead us through painful valleys, His grace is always there to strengthen our faith and bring comfort and encouragement. But we forgo such mercies if we rebel and go our own way.

So consider whether your life is aligned with the Lord’s ways or aligned with your own. He always leads us in holiness, wisdom, faith, and obedience. But our ways are a result of convenience, self-interest, self-advancement, and human reasoning. The Lord’s path is always the best, and ours is usually costly.

No matter where you find yourself today, God is calling out to you, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). The imagery is that of a baby bird with its beak stretched wide to receive the food its parent brings. The Lord wants to feed you with His Word so you can learn His ways. Are you open to receiving it? More importantly, are you willing to obey it?

An Awesome Privilege

Prayer is a truly remarkable privilege, especially considering the Lord’s holiness. How can human beings, who are inherently sinful, dare to approach a holy God whose nature is so flawless and perfect that even a hint of sin is incompatible with His presence? Yet that is exactly what Christians are invited to do—to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” so they can receive help in times of need (Heb. 4:16).

Although we often take prayer for granted, we should never forget what God did to open this path to His throne. Because He is holy, a blood sacrifice is required to cover sin before anyone can approach Him (Lev. 17:11). In the Old Testament Law, a priest offered animal sacrifices for the cleansing of imperfect people (Lev. 4:1-35; Lev. 5:1-19). However, that was only a temporary solution because, while animal sacrifices covered the sin, they could never wipe it out.

At the cross, God’s Son offered Himself as the only fully sufficient, atoning sacrifice to pay the penalty for sin once for all time. His blood is adequate for the forgiveness of every past, present, and future sin of those who have by faith received His atonement. Now believers are not only forgiven but also welcomed into God’s family as a result of being born again of His Spirit, who indwells them.

One aspect of our new spiritual birth is that we have the privilege of communion with the Father in prayer because the Son is our high priest, eternally covering us in His righteousness. We can rest assured that we always have access to the Creator of the universe, who is sovereign over everything.

Trusting God in Prayer

Prayer is one area of our Christian life in which most of us recognize the need for improvement. Not only do we battle with distractions, but we’re also tempted to give up if we don’t see immediate results. Yet the Lord wants us to keep coming to Him with our concerns because in the process, we develop an intimate relationship with Him.

We may find it a struggle to establish a consistent prayer life, but what endeavor could be more valuable than petitioning an omnipotent God for whom nothing is impossible? Of course, that is not to say He’ll give us everything we request, as people don’t always make petitions according to His will. But even when His answer is no, God’s fatherly concern for His children is obvious. Have you ever looked back at past prayer requests and been grateful the Lord didn’t give the answer you hoped for? Sometimes a maturing perspective reveals that getting what you desired would have been disastrous.

In today’s passage, God draws a comparison between earthly fathers and the heavenly Father. If a human father, who is flawed and limited, can offer good things to his children, then it stands to reason that the heavenly Father, who is all-powerful and all-knowing, will give His children superior gifts.

Therefore, we can trust that even if we don’t receive exactly what we’ve requested, our loving heavenly Father is giving us something even more beneficial. Peace and confidence in prayer come when we humbly accept that we’re like children who have a very limited perspective, but our loving Father sees eternally. We can always trust Him to answer our prayers wisely.

Responding to Accusation

When conflict occurs, the natural reaction is to blame someone else and defend yourself. But believers must respond differently. Once, I was publicly chastised for a wrong I had not committed. Thankfully, the Lord enabled me to remain calm rather than react angrily. Praying before doing anything else is the best response in a crisis. When we do, God supernaturally provides that which we can’t muster up ourselves.

Spiritual discernment. The Lord, who perfectly understands the source of every problem, can give us insight beyond our limited perspective. Perhaps there’s been a communication breakdown, a feeling of jealousy on the other person’s part, or a mistake we unknowingly made. The Holy Spirit can show us how to approach our accuser and see beyond hurtful words or actions.

A quiet spirit. Our human nature wants to react quickly so that we can defend ourselves. That’s why we must first deliberately focus our attention on the Lord and experience the inward peace He alone makes available to us (John 14:27).

Wisdom. Jesus told His disciples the Holy Spirit would give them wise words to say when they faced hostile authorities. He’ll do the same for you. Ask Him to put a seal on your lips until He shows you what to say and when (Psalm 141:3).

We don’t have to react to criticism with anger and self-protection the way the world does. Instead, we are called to represent Christ in every situation by depending on Him. In responding as He directs, we bring Him glory and cause unbelievers to want to know the source of our strength.

The Expression of Faith

Have you ever heard the old saying, “Faith gives feet to belief”? This simply means that faith is the active expression of what you truly believe about God. If you have the idea that He sits in some far-off place called heaven and only half-heartedly listens to your prayers, then that will reveal itself in your day-to-day walk of faith. Your God will seem small, powerless, and disinterested.

Abraham’s actions demonstrated that he had a very large view of God and complete confidence in His faithfulness. Even though the patriarch misjudged how the Lord would rescue Isaac, it was evident that he knew God would fulfill His promise. Abraham’s faith was perfected (or made complete) when he demonstrated willingness to sacrifice his son in obedience to the Lord (James 2:21-22).

As Christians, we profess faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, but it’s by our actions that we prove our faith is genuine. When God says not to be anxious about our physical needs, do we trust Him, or do we worry about our finances as we watch the economy fluctuate? Is prayer our first reaction to a problem, or are we more prone to rely on ourselves for a solution? How confident are we that the Bible is true and God will do what He’s said?

Consider what your actions say about your perception of God. If you believe that the Lord is who He has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures, then your life will show evidence of your faith. You’ll confront sin, pursue godliness, worship God with reverence, seek to obey Him fully, and be confident of His love for you.

Building on Christ

Have you ever seen an elaborate, masterfully crafted sandcastle? That’s one of the most delightful experiences of a trip to the beach. The best builders are painstaking in every detail as they craft these beautiful works of art. The towers are straight, the windows are even, and sometimes the outline of individual bricks can be seen on each wall. The end result is often stunning, rivaling the elegance of homes in the wealthiest neighborhoods of the world.

But for all a sandcastle’s splendor, its hours are numbered. From the moment the first grain of sand is set in place, the miniature building is on its way to oblivion. Within hours the details are destroyed by wind, rain, and the incoming tide. There is simply no future for a house of sand.

Sometimes believers’ lives are like sandcastles. Even though everything looks perfect on the outside, their life’s pursuits and activities will be revealed as worthless in the fire of God’s judgment. Although their eternal destiny is secure, they will suffer the loss of heavenly rewards because they used inferior building materials.

The most important thing in life is to make sure we have the right foundation. Church attendance, ministry work, discipleship programs, or community service are no substitute for the rock-solid foundation of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. We also need to build our life with faithful, obedient service to the Lord. The goal is not to have the most impressive-looking life in this world but to build one that demonstrates our devotion to the Savior who died to rescue us.

The Justice of Divine Judgment

Every person will face God on judgment day. Whenever that topic comes up, I am usually asked something like, “What about people who live in remote areas, who will never hear about Jesus?” The concerned questioner is really wondering, How could a loving Lord send an ignorant person to hell? In other words, how can it be fair to condemn those who have never heard the gospel?

To understand how God judges, we should recognize two truths about Him. First, He is not limited. While whole people groups still have no Scripture in their language, God always reaches individuals whose hearts are open to knowing Him. Men like Abraham and Moses had no Scriptures, and yet the Lord spoke to them.

Second, God reveals Himself to all people, whether or not they have access to the Bible. As we saw yesterday, He not only demonstrates His power and attributes through creation; He also programs our conscience to understand the basic distinctions between right and wrong. For those who are blessed to hear the gospel at some point, Jesus Christ is the greatest revelation of God in their life.

When people stand before the Father, He will judge them on three criteria: the amount of truth to which each has been exposed; how many opportunities there were to accept the truth and share it with others; and what was done with those opportunities. The believer’s responsibility, then, is to reach as many as possible with the gospel so that no one need ask, “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?"

Salvation: The First Step

After a baby takes his first steps, the parents call loved ones. They excitedly announce the awesome accomplishment, which is the beginning of a new life of greater mobility and maturity. In the same way, the Christian life begins with a first step—salvation. But it’s only the start of a new life of increasing spiritual growth.

When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” they answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). It’s simple enough that even a child can do it, and after salvation, we are all like babies taking our first steps. A new believer doesn’t understand all the doctrines of salvation any more than a toddler knows all the mechanics of walking. However, once we are saved, we have a responsibility to learn what God has done for us and to take more steps of obedience in the Christian life.

Genuine salvation always results in transformation. When we receive Jesus as our personal Savior, He comes to live within us through the Holy Spirit. Our old way of life no longer fits our new identity, and the Spirit works within us to make us more like Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Has there been a particular point in your life when you recognized your sin and then asked Jesus to forgive you and become your Savior? If so, how has your life been transformed since then? Spiritual growth is one of the ways we can know that we are saved.

Walk by Faith, Not by Sight

Throughout His ministry, Jesus repeatedly commended people for faith and reproved others for a lack of it. Faith is of great importance because it’s required for salvation. It’s also essential after we’re saved, as we are to continue living by faith—that is, by the firm conviction God will do what He has promised. This requires us to stay focused on the Lord. If we take our eyes off Jesus and start looking at circumstances, our confidence in Him could begin to wobble.

A good example is Peter’s experience of walking on the Sea of Galilee. He started out confident, but as soon as he looked away from Jesus and saw the wind, human reasoning took over. The apostle thought, People can’t walk on water!—and his faith faltered. We’re just like Peter when we know what God has said but try to add our logic to His commands.

Another reason we falter is that when we focus on the circumstances instead of on Christ, little problems can seem huge and start to dominate our thoughts. That’s why we must consider every situation in the light of our great God, who can handle anything and everything.

Sometimes the problem is that we can’t see God in our circumstances. He’s promised to take care of us, but He may provide in a way other than what we want. Or, we may think the Lord couldn’t possibly be in the midst of a difficult or painful situation. But He is, and He works everything for our good if we belong to Him (Rom. 8:28).

Are you walking by faith or relying on your senses and reasoning? Walking by sight brings anxiety and fear, but faith produces peaceful confidence.

Add Reply

Likes (1)
Keith
Post

×
×
×
×
×