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Archive for February, 2009

Salvation…Faith Vs. Legalism

early-lightDoes is matter to you what your Church believes? For me I am not that concerned about different denominations and our sometimes slight differences. I am however always concerned over the issue of salvation. The Bible clearly teaches us that we are Justified or Saved by grace alone. You might look at that statement and be in complete agreement, but is that what your Church believes as well? The best summation of how to obtain salvation is found in Romans 10:9-13;

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

This is simple to understand, but hard to accept by some. God saves us because of His grace. The only condition he has is the placing our faith or trust in Jesus as Lord. That step is a difficult one for many because they want to remain lord of their own lives. I write this article today in light of a tradition that claims you are not saved until you are baptized. This tradition is the Independent Christian Church known as the Restoration Movement. Their presentation of the Gospel revolves around baptism and not around Jesus who is always to be at the center of our salvation. Ask your Church what they believe about how a person is saved. If they do not agree with saved by grace through faith alone you will find yourself in a legalistic situation that God never intended.

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The Life God Blesses

blesses2Last night a retired Minister in my congregation put The Life God Blesses by Jim Cymbala into my hands. I started to read it this afternoon and found myself half way through it already. It is small in size and anyone could read this book quickly. I am a fan of Cymbala and his writings already so its no wonder that I think the world of this one already. In the Church today there is a lot of gimmicks and Pastor’s are prone to chase after them on a regular basis. Cymbala in this book (much like his others) is calling those who serve Jesus back to some fundamental practices that are definitely missing in the Church today. If you want to be refreshed and need to get back to the basics this is a book for you. If you need to be reminded of faithfulness and prayer this book is one that will help prompt you to get on your knees and re-evaluate your relationship with God. This book is refreshing in light of the self-help junk that is labeled Christian in today’s market.

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Prayer – Part 3

holy-spiritIf we really want to experience God in and through prayer there are a few things that we have to realize. The first thing is that God does not operate on our time table and moves through prayer in His timing and according to His Will. This is probably one of the hardest aspects of prayer for any Christian to grasp. God moves according to His Will which is beyond our comprehension. Learning to wait upon God to move can be frustrating if you let it, but it should be a time of reflection on what you are praying and exactly what it is you are asking from God. Self centered prayers will never be answered (see James 4).

The second thing that we need to realize is that persistence in prayer is a missing element in the Church today. We look at prayer as some mystical chant that we offer up and then God responds. The Bible clearly teaches that there is something to persevering in prayer. In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus gives us the Parable of the Persistent Widow. I would suggest that any Christian read through this Parable many times to drink it in. Persevering in prayer helps us to depend on God in greater ways. This life of faith that we are living is played out over time. When we learn to stay prayerful for needs that are pleasing to God He reveals Himself in greater ways and is glorified more greatly by us when an answer comes. Don’t give up on prayer! Keep going! At the end of the Parable of the Persistent Widow Jesus asks “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Our level of faith matters to God and it should matter to us when we cry out to Him about our needs. Our faith is strengthened through diligent prayer.

The third thing a Christian must realize about prayer is that it needs to be according to the Will of God. God longs to move through prayers, but they need to be aligned with His desires. The best way for that to happen is to get into the Word everyday and take note of what the Biblical writers were praying about. Read through the book of Psalms, The Lord’s Prayer, the book of Acts, and what Paul prayed for concerning the Church at Ephesus. In Acts 3 & 4 you will find a story that spans those 2 chapters. It concerns Peter & John are being persecuted by the establishment for a miracle and preaching about Jesus. After they are let go by the establishment they return to someones home and a prayer meeting breaks out. Acts 4:24-31 is what they prayed and what happened through their prayer. When we pray according to the Will of God great things begin to happen.

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