Category Archives: ACTIVE CHRISTIAN LIVING,

BORN AGAIN: 031716 (John 3:3)

bible

KJ21    Jesus answered and said unto him, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

This seems like a relatively simple verse.  It says that you can’t SEE God;  you can’t SEE the kingdom of God (KJV); you can’t GET into the Kingdom of God (TLB); you cannot BE in God’s kingdom (NCV) unless you are born again.  Other expressions for knowing God, such as ‘get saved’, ‘have eternal life’, ‘go to heaven’, ‘have righteousness’, ‘be converted’, ‘have a relationship with God’; you can’t do any of those things, unless you are spiritually transformed.  [Changed on the inside]

The word translated as ‘again’ means ‘from above’ in Greek.  ‘From above’ means by God, by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit.

‘Born’ means what you’d think it means; that you’re the child of your father and mother; you have their substance residing in you.  So you can’t be ‘born again’, ‘born from above’, have God as your Father, unless you are spiritually transformed from your natural self to God’s own child.

So ‘Born again’ means ‘spiritually transformed’.

So it IS simple.  Jesus wasn’t making some ethereal, mystic statement.  He was just telling a truth.  He was just stating a fact.  You just CAN’T have a relationship with God unless you die to yourself, trust Him and let His Spirit come to live in you.  As long as you are holding on to control of your life instead of surrendering and letting God run your life, you can’t even SEE the kingdom of God, much less be a part of it.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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ORPHANS AND WIDOWS.122815

Male hands with baby - parental love and careJames 1:27: “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

What is this message?  Take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.  If you take care of the orphans and the widows, God will take care of you.  How do you do it?  There are several ways.  You can make their needs your needs.  You can give them food, shelter and money; and that is very important, considering that so many of them really don’t have enough. You can do what it says in this verse.  You can visit them.  You can become involved in their lives.  You can let them into your heart.  If you open the door just a little, they’ll come in, and your life will be changed. (forever)

Some people actually adopt children.  It’s a hard process, but so fulfilling if you just persevere.  There are many people out there who are actually called to be foster parents (like preachers are called to the ministry).  Some of them start out doing it for what little it pays; but more often than not, they too are changed.  It’s because of that love that God puts in our hearts.  But many kids stay in foster care until they ‘age out’, without ever being adopted.  Often it’s because of behavioral issues; or learning disabilities; or prenatal drug addiction.  Sometimes four or five kids from one family become orphans in one fateful accident.  CPS just can’t keep them all together, and they become ‘lost in the system’. (one by one)  There’s a group called ‘Foundation for Christian Adoptions’ whose mission is to find and help families who are willing to adopt sibling groups.  They do it in all kinds of ways; from making connections between the kids and the parents, to providing housing for such families.

The world is full of ways to help.  Get on the ‘Net and see. God is calling us all to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters in need, especially those who need a momma and a daddy to love them.

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN, PART FOUR.102415

Silhouette illustration of a man praying under the lightSURRENDER to JESUS and MAKE HIM THE LORD OF YOUR LIFE (every day)  In some Christian churches you can ‘get saved’ by walking down the aisle at the end of a service and declaring your allegiance (devotion) to Jesus.  Maybe you fill out a card with some personal information.  Then the pastor introduces you to the congregation and they vote you in on the spot and you’re saved. You’re a full member of the Body of Christ.  You’re going to heaven.  What more need be said?  Well . . .where’s the teaching and the understanding and the commitment?

In other churches you’re baptized into the church as an infant, then when you’re around 12 you go through confirmation, with the intention that you learn the basic principles of the faith and then you make a commitment to follow Jesus, with baptism by the clergy, and hopefully of the Holy Spirit.

Clearly either of these systems is dependent on concerted effort by the church community to teach the Bible, to demonstrate the fundamentals of the faith, to show ’em what it feels like to have a personal relationship with the Living God.  It requires all of us having a consistent commitment to Jesus and to our brothers and sisters in the Body. Continue reading

PRACTICING CHRISTIAN, PART THREE.102215

Stress Burdens Sticky Notes Reminders for Stressful LifeIn the most recent post on this subject, I discussed that ‘practicing’ Christians follow certain fundamentals in their lives, the way baseball players follow certain fundamentals in playing baseball, and 1] is FOCUS ON GOD EVERY DAY.  I said something like, “Give Him some time and attention”.

Just this week I’ve been reminded that there are a lot of distractions in the world that keep us from (or impede our progress in) building this kind of relationship with Jesus.  I’m talking A LOT of distractions.  Some of them large and threatening, others apparently small and insignificant, but just as distracting.  Many of these are serious problems that require a great deal of time and attention, particularly in the eyes of well-meaning, God-fearing, Bible-believing people.  Things such as the state of our nation; the many astounding changes in our culture regarding sex, marriage, constitutional issues, leadership problems, immigration, liberal vs conservative disputes, and others too numerous to mention.  There are many, many things wrong, and someone just MUST do something about them.  All are legitimate concerns that require attention.

On the next level are all the things that we have to do TODAY!  Depending on what stage of life you’re at right now, Continue reading

FROM WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN.101915

Beautiful female ballet dancer on a grey background. Ballerina is wearing an orange tutu, pink stockings and pointe shoes.In Luke 12:48, Jesus said to his disciples, “ . . . From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

I’ve told all my kids this verse.  I’ve explained to them that God has given them a brain and other gifts and talents and He expects them to use those gifts to help themselves and to help others.  He didn’t give them special gifts and talents so they could waste them on just themselves, or ignore those gifts and not use them for the glory of God and for the good of people.  He wants them, and all of us, to recognize the talents and gifts we have and use them to their full advantage.

This principle applies to our spiritual lives as well as to our natural lives.  ‘Course we all know that Jesus was talking about spiritual things when He told his parable about the Master and the servant.   He says, “Who then does the Master trust?”  He trusts the one who He finds doing his job, being obedient to do what God has told him to do, what He has prepared him to do, with his God-given talents and resources, not wasting his time and his talents.  I just love the concept that God trusts us, just like we’re supposed to trust Him.  We’re pleasing to God when we do His will by being obedient to work WITH God to accomplish His purposes on this earth.  How’s that for a high calling?!  He says, “Blessed is that servant whom his Master will find so doing when he comes.”

Best I can tell obedience is one of the highest virtues in a servant of Jesus Christ.  This is one of those duties we should fulfill, not grudgingly, but with all our hearts and all our souls and all our strength and all our minds.  Just like the way we’re supposed to love and trust God, with all our hearts .  .  .

 

 

 

WANT TO WALK ON WATER? 071715

Walk on water with a businessman walking on the surface of an ocean as a business concept of confidence and courage to take on an impossible challenge and achieve success with the power of belief.

Matt. 14:28-30. “And Peter answered [Jesus] and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”  So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

This is a great story!  It has all the ingredients of a growing relationship with Jesus.  Everybody knows that Jesus walked on water.  There are three times in the Bible that mention Jesus “walking on water” or “walking on the sea”.  Often people use this as ‘best evidence’ of Jesus deity, that He was able to walk on water, when no one else could.  But this was Peter, just a common, ordinary human, like you and me.  They didn’t wear pants in those days, but if they had, he would have put his pants on one leg at a time, just like you and me.  Peter did a lot of good stuff in his time on the earth, but he also did some bad stuff, and occasionally some really stupid stuff.  But Jesus chose him, and Jesus loved him.  And Peter walked on water.

There had to be something going on in Peter’s heart (and imagination) for him to even think to say, “Lord, if it’s you, make me walk on the water.”  Continue reading

THE WORD GOD HAS PLANTED.071615

Mother and daughter planting flowers together.“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” NLT

Most of my life, in fact until this very morning, I have read this passage from James 1, verses 21-27, and I’ve focused on 22-25, where it talks about being doers of the Word and not hearers only, about how if you don’t do what the Word says, you’re like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and as soon as he turns away, he forgets what he looked like.  Almost exactly the same guy that Jesus talked about when he said, “A man who hears My Words and does what I say is a wise man, who built his house on a rock, but a man who hears My Words and doesn’t do them is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  He’s a fool!  Matt. 7:24-27.

But today, I really saw and paid attention to verse 21 for the very first time, and God said, “The word God has planted in your hearts” is the real meat of this passage.  Continue reading