Four-year-old Asher’s gleeful face peeked out from beneath his favorite hooded sweatshirt. His alligator-head hooded sweatshirt, complete with plush jaws that seemed to swallow his head! His mom’s heart sank. She wanted the family to make a good impression as they visited a family they hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Oh, Hon,” she said, “that may not be appropriate for the occasion.”
The Lord who made you wants you to make Him the center of your life.
“Of course it is!” Asher protested brightly.
“Hmm, and what occasion might that be?” she asked. Asher replied, “You know. Life!” He got to wear the shirt.
That joyful boy already grasps the truth of Ecclesiastes 3:12—“There is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes can seem depressing and is often misunderstood because it’s written from a human perspective, not God’s. The writer, King Solomon, asked, “What do workers gain from their toil?” (v. 9). Yet throughout the book we catch glimpses of hope. Solomon also wrote: “That each of [us] may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all [our] toil—this is the gift of God” (v. 13).
We serve a God who gives us good things to enjoy. Everything He does “will endure forever” (v. 14). As we acknowledge Him and follow His loving commands, He infuses our lives with purpose, meaning, and joy.
Restore to us childlike joy that appreciates Your good gifts.
“I gave my life to Christ and since then I’ve been trying not to stray from the narrow way. I go to church and I’m even involved in church ministry. BUT something has been bothering me…I’ve been asking myself and others this question ‘have I truly believed in Jesus Christ?’”- Tads
One of my best friends asked the question “how can one know that they have truly believed in Jesus Christ?” I feel that this question is a good question and it needs to be asked and answered more often. The question has the power to bring us to the core of the Christian faith. Sometimes, we overlook such questions because we are so busy going through the Christian-faith motions that we forget to check where we truly stand in Jesus. BUT I feel that the only way to answer this question is to go the Word of God. What does He say about those who have believed?
Our blessed assurance is that through God’s sovereign mercy and Divine love He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross so that those who turn to Him and believe may not face the second death. It is by faith that those who have believed are justified and have peace with God (Romans 5:1). (Can I get a hallelujah?) However, James furthers the argument of justification in James 2:24 “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Let’s understand that James is not discrediting justification by faith. He is confirming the notion of “outward” evidence when people claim to have believed. There must be actions to show for it. There must be fruit.
Grape fruit is evidence that the grape tree is a grape tree. Thus, the mere professing of belief in Jesus Christ is important but not sufficient. In the words of the Messiah “You shall recognize them by their fruits.”- Matthew 7:16 (Of course He was referring to false teachers but it also applies to the believers). In addition, Galatians says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” 1st John talks about the evidence of belief in Christ. The writer says “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”-1 John 3:14. The writer is basically saying that the evidence of those who abide in Christ…those who have believed is the fact that they love their brothers [fellow believers]. 1st John 4:12-21 is also a great passage to reflect on. In verse 13 the writer says “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” Then…he describes a bunch of things that you ought to read and in verse 20 and 21 the writer says”If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” Love is an evidence of one’s belief in Christ. Evidence of one’s belief is obedience to God’s word, kindness, self-control, purity in speech and many others. If one has truly believed in Jesus there is evidence of it as they live daily.
Since, we know that our blessed assurance is Christ’s sacrifice and God’s redemption through Him (as earlier discussed) and that those who have believed ought to bear fruit. Now, what if one is not bearing fruit as a believer, does this mean that they haven’t truly believed in Christ Jesus? Yes, it could mean that they have not repented and believed the gospel of Christ. At the same time, there are people who have truly believed and are not bearing fruit. Why is this?Some believers are under the illusion that the moment we are justified by God then our sin and our evil desires disappear and we live happily ever after. Well, I wish that were true but it’s NOT. Every day we wake up is a battle against our flesh, the world and the devil.
As, we are fighting the good fight and battling the flesh, world and the devil, our comfort is in the fact that He [God] who began a good work [the work of justification and sanctification] in you will be faithful to complete it (Philippians 1:6). However, we ought to work out our salvation with fear and trembling for it is God working within us(Philippians 2:12-13) and the Scriptures even extend to say put to death what is earthly in you, stuff like sexual immorality, lust and greed (Colossians 3:5). Thus, we see from the scriptures that we have a role to play in our sanctification, but we don’t do this alone. God will help us as He has said in His Word (praise GOD for this!).
Philippians 2:12-12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”