What Is A Christian?

I’ve been reading a number of posts on other sites lately that leave me disappointed and fighting discouragement. There seems to be a large number of people who had faith in God/Jesus at one time and now feel that it is all a lie, and that there are no true Christians in the world.

I have to ask those people: What are you looking for? How do you define a Christian? Is it someone who is perfect? Sorry, not in this life. Our souls are saved from sin when we repent and ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, but our flesh is still weak. The apostle Paul said he was the chiefest of sinners and that he continually did those things contrary to what he wanted to do, and didn’t do the things he should. Every church I’ve ever been in, every Christian I’ve ever met has believed that Paul was the greatest Christian that ever lived. We are instructed to “die to ourselves daily.” If we were perfect we wouldn’t need to do that. Isaiah said that “all of our righteousness is as filthy rags.”

We can’t earn salvation because there isn’t a human being who ever lived, or who ever will live who could be good enough. We are all born sinners. We are not born wanting to do right. No one has to teach a child how to lie, steal or be selfish. It is inherent in their nature, and becomes more dominant as they grow. My best efforts to be good fall so short of God’s expectations. But He has graciously paid the penalty for my sin, has taken my punishment. He knows I can’t be perfect. It’s why He continually offers me His love, grace, and mercy. I need it.

That is not a license to go out and do anything I want to. Salvation is not a “get out of hell free” card. It is not fire insurance. God is not a celestial Santa Claus, or a benevolent, spoiling grandfather. He is not “the man upstairs.” He is God. He is almighty, all powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere present. He is just and holy. He is righteous. He is jealous. We are not to worship anything or anyone other than Him. He alone is worthy.

As Christians we have a responsibility to do our best to obey Him, to ask His forgiveness when we fail, to seek His help to become more like Him because we can’t do it on our own.

So if you can’t see any real Christianity, maybe it’s because you’re looking for reasons not to believe. Maybe you’ve been let down. Maybe you’ve seen hypocrisy. But do you disown a baby because it stumbles when it is learning to walk? We are all at different stages of our Christian growth and walk. Some Christians are not being taught (discipled) how to live a Christian life. If no one teaches them they won’t know what’s expected.

If there are hypocrites in your church, praise the Lord! Where should they be? At least they (hopefully) are hearing messages that may help them change. The church is not a museum for saints; it’s a spiritual hospital for growing, struggling Christians. It’s not a carnival where you go for a weekly spiritual “happy hour.” It’s a place to grow and learn in your walk with Jesus.

The Bible is God’s holy Word. If you choose not to believe it, if you choose to believe it’s a lie your end will be hell and there is no way out of there. If you’re wrong you have everything to lose. If God is real and you put your faith, hope and trust in Him, and it turns out not to be true, what have you lost? The end is the same then.

A Christian, a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, is by definition, a follower, a learner, a student of Him and His ways. It is not perfection; it is growth. Don’t let the devil deceive you. Remember that the Bible (Ephesians chapter 6) tells us that he is our enemy, presenting himself as an angel of light, and “roams about a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” Don’t listen to him. He came to destroy you and your faith. He wants you to give up and look at all of the negative, and the bad examples out there. There will always be bad examples. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Hang in there, struggling believer. Ask God to help you stand strong. Don’t let the devil win.

‘Twas The Night Before Jesus Came

I don’t know who authored this poem but I love it.

‘Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house

Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.

Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without a care

In hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,

Not once ever kneeling or bowing their head.

And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap

Was watching The Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter

I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wondering eyes shuld appear

but angels proclaiming that Jesus was here.

With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray

I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY!

The light of His face made me cover my head

It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.

And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,

I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand

Was written the name of every saved man.

He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;

When He said “it’s not here” my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love

He gathered to take to His Father above.

With those who were ready He rose without a sound

While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late’

I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.

I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;

Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear,

The coming of Jesus is drawing near.

There’s only one life and when comes the last call

We’ll find that the bible was true after all.

Heaven’s Jubilee

I am continually amazed at God’s grace and mercy. I am so thankful I’m not getting what I deserve because all I deserve is hell. That knowledge keeps me from getting upset if someone belittles me or puts me down, because when that happens I remind myself that at least I’m not getting what I deserve–hell. Jesus was perfect and he was tortured–because of me. There’s a song that says When He Was On The Cross I Was On His Mind. So true. Because Jesus, who is part of the triune Godhead, saw me from the foundation of the world and decided to take my penalty for sin so I wouldn’t have to. He did the same for you and everyone on the planet–past, present, and future. It’s up to us to decide whether or not to accept such an extravagant gift.

Luke 15:7, 10 tells us that when a person gets saved (that means asking God for forgiveness, and for God to adopt that person into His family) all of heaven rejoices. Every time a person gets saved it’s party time in heaven. I don’t know what parties in heaven are like but I’m sure they’re thousands of times better than anything down here. There’s no drunkenness, no debauchery, no hangovers, no guilt, just supreme joy–jubilation, ecstatic excitement, overwhelming joy bubbling over into gales of laughter and singing. I imagine it as that exuberance you feel when you first meet that special someone and fall in love with him or her. It’s like standing on the mountain top, looking out over range after range, feeling as if you could hold the whole world in your heart and see beyond the farthest reaches. I know that’s how I felt when I got saved. 

There is no greater sense of freedom than knowing your sins are washed away and God is going to make you a new person, shedding off (over time; it’s a process) the old attitudes, the hang-ups, the worries and fears. I gave Him my temper and asked Him to replace it with His peace. He did. I asked Him to make me the wife my husband needed me to be so our marriage would be saved. He did. I asked Him to teach me to be kind and to think more of others and less of myself. He did and He isn’t finished yet. There’s still a lot of work to be done. God never sleeps and He never gives up on His children. I like the song that says He’s Still Working On Me. 

I’m not perfect; just forgiven. I fall down and He picks me up. I stumble and cry and He wipes away my tears and gives me the strength to keep trying. Two of my favorite phrases: I am too blessed to be stressed; too anointed to be disappointed and KNOW PEACE–KNOW GOD; NO PEACE–NO GOD. Oh, let me add one more. There’s a phrase in the Bible repeated throughout that says, “And it came to pass.” I love that because it means “It didn’t come to stay.” Whatever problem we face, whatever trial or heartache we’re going through, when we put our trust and hope in Jesus, He will work it all out for our good (Romans 8:28–my life’s verse). We will not be stuck with the situation–not even this plague of sugar ants we’ve had for months. But this world is not my home. My real home is in heaven. For now I’m just a sojourner.

 

Who Is Jesus?

Today is Sunday, the day the apostles and the early Christians met together to worship God. In our society today there seems to be much confusion over who Jesus is, or was. The Muslims say he was a good man and a great prophet. The Jews think he was a heretic. In Mark 8:27-29 Jesus was asking his disciples who people were saying he was. The answer was that some people were saying he was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the other prophets come back to life. Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said Peter answered correctly.

When Jesus was resurrected from the dead he appeared to the discipes in an upper room at least twice. One of those times the disciple Thomas was absent; another time Thomas was there. Thomas had doubted the report that Jesus had returned from the dead and said he would not believe unless he could put his finger in the nail prints in Jesus’s hands and thrust his hand in the wound made a sword in Jesus’s side. When Jesus appeared to Thomas he encouraged Thomas to do those things. When he did he answered with awe and wonder and proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” 

Jesus did not rebuke Thomas for his words but received them gladly. If he had just been a good man or a prophet he would have rebuked Thomas. Because Jesus was fully God and fully man (don’t try to figure it out; our little finite minds can’t comprehend the mind of God) he accepted Thomas’s worship. Jesus was the only one qualified to pay our sin debt because he was the only perfect being to ever have lived. And the good news is–He is alive today. 

For those who choose to doubt and not believe, I’m praying for you. It is your choice to believe or not. But here’s the crux of the matter: If I’m wrong I have nothing to lose. I’m no worse off than as if I didn’t believe. However, those who choose not to believe have everything to lose: eternal life, peace with God, peace and blessings in this life, especially during difficult times. It is God who has kept my marriage together. It is God who calms my fears. It is God who changed me from a whining, self-centered, negative wretch to a happy, positive, outgoing, other-people-centered person.

Give God a chance. You’ll be glad you did.